Monday, June 9, 2014

To Say It's Been A While ...

... is a vast understatement.

  This time last year the girls and I were preparing to move into our little house and start a new chapter.  My ex and I were navigating the tricky footing of what we hoped to be an amicable divorce.  We stumbled.  More than a few times. 

  But to be able to confidently say today that we are not only civil but pretty friendly, have actually talked each other through dating post-split and reassured each other that our girls know how much we both love them, is worth everything. 

  You hear so many horrible stories about divorce.  I was lucky enough to know some amazingly strong women who talked me through it, my "divorce sherpas".  They returned my sobbing voicemails and texts and gave me this road map to get through.  My friend Hana said "This is going to be as good or as bad as you both make it" and that advice has been invaluable.  Not just for my kids, but for myself - I was with my ex for 12 years and I did not want to carry any ill will forward.  This new place in my life is too full of promise. 

  I have become pretty philosophical about marriage, naturally.  I don't think I will ever get married again.  Not because I don't believe in monogamy or commitment, but I don't feel the need to enter into a contract with someone I love.  Too often, marriage seems to become this false safety net, making it ok for you to take your partner for granted, to not make them feel loved and happy and get that in return.  Marriage is a weird proposition anyway, from a biological standpoint.

  My parents have been married 30+ years and are still completely in love and each others best friend.  I love that.  My sisters are also in happy marriages.  My girls get the benefit of seeing that not one shoe fits all, that love is what you make it. 

  I mention my divorce to people I meet and the usual response is "I'm so sorry" to which I reply, "Don't be, I'm not!"  It's frustrating to me that this is usually perceived that my ex was awful, that I'm shaking off some awful guy.  He is not.  He's a great father, friend, person.  He's just not who I was meant to be with for the rest of my life, and I'm not who he was supposed to be with either.  And we are both good with that.  And so are our kids. 

  Divorce doesn't have to be traumatizing.  Or contentious.  You will have to learn to hold your tongue, to check any knee-jerk reactions, to communicate differently, to be open to not fitting into a mold, and to respect not only your new independence but your ex-partners as well.  Your ex-partners new love interests don't have to be your enemy, and they shouldn't be. 

  I have had 2 women approach me who are contemplating divorce too.  I've listened to them and tried to remain impartial but support them in any way I can.  It's passing on this crazy idea, that divorce isn't a bad word, that it doesn't mean sadness and a failure.  It can be happiness and a peace that you've been searching for.  Done with good intentions it can be a learning experience and an opportunity to grow. Done with good intentions it can be the new start that saves the rest of your life.

Today Is The Day

**I wrote this post just over a year ago, and it has been sitting in "drafts" ever since. 

I've been away so long.  Thank you to everyone who sent me notes and asked about me and the girls.  To say we are settling in I think is understating it.  We are evolving and creating and growing together, as cheesy as that may sound.  We are building this new little life, re-defined with just the three of us (and Zac, and the two rats)

When Andy and I first decided to separate, I applied for University housing through the University I work for.  Despite being told that it was near impossible to get into.  And lo and behold,

I got an email that they had a 2 bedroom house available on March 1st.  Which was a perfect time frame for us to pack and plan.  As you can see the house is tiny, just two small bedrooms, a living room with a corner for our table, a kitchen and a bathroom.  Luckily there's also a basement for all of our storage stuff, but regardless I made myself get rid of a lot.  I stopped counting at my 10th trip to Goodwill.  The idea of "tiny living" has always appealed to me, and this is truly as much space as I ever want.  In addition the house is over 60 years old (rare in this area).  After growing up in homes that were around 100 years old, then living in a split level built in the 90's, I am loving this return to hardwood floors, old doorknobs, and a big old bathtub. 

Monday, December 10, 2012

Week(s) in Review

Kombucha brewing.  Did you know kombucha is $4 a bottle?  Did you know I'm super cheap?

Finished kombucha plus SCOBY for my friend Tory.  
Mooch after trying kombucha.  Not a fan.  Butterbean loves it but she's a weirdo.  
Interested in being a super-cheap hippie?  Kombucha home brewing directions here.
She is also my complete crunchy/granola girl crush.

Butterbean at her preschool Thanksgiving feast.  ARE YOU KIDDING ME WITH THE CUTE.

Girly dance parties in our living room.  Amazing.  PS That ghe-tto side table and couch are gone, thank you baby Jesus.

A lot more dancing, a lot more changes, a lot more ....

The girls are adjusting so well and I tell them "We can think of this as an adventure".  I hope to inspire them while we go onto this next chapter.  And yet the nurturer in me hates to take them out of their comfort zone.  Their Dad now lives in a different home.  We are moving out of our house in the new year.  So many changes for them, and while I know they must be hard on my girls I can feel all of this guiding us towards something better.  I know from now on I won't chase something that can't be, I will put myself and my girls first, I will face hard things and work through them.  I'm ready. 

I also find myself having lots of deep conversations with people lately about if monogamy does or does not work, which I find very funny.  I've become kind of a touch stone for this.  Women tend to either say to me "Oh I have days I could absolutely divorce my husband" or women who say "I just can't walk away from all I have invested in this".  It's a very odd place to be in in a conversation.  To the 'investors' I want to say, you do realize this isn't a business transaction?  You only have one little life to live here, you might as well be happy.  The former I want to say, every married person has those days.  If the good outweigh the bad, it's worth hanging in there.  I got to a point where the bad far outweighed the good - it was a matter of survival.  And despite the biological clues I do think monogamy works, if the circumstances are right.  My parents have been married almost 40 years and are insanely in love and each other's best friends.  I have always had a feeling that my path towards that would be twisty-turny, and that's ok.  It's part of what will ultimately make me who I am supposed to be.

And until then, I bake bread, and take my dog for hikes, and play and craft and laugh with my perfect girls, and rub my sister's bellies where my nieces/nephews are growing, and am generally excited about life and love and the whole crazy lot of it.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

A Week In Review

I brought my camera to Thanksgiving and took not a single picture.  So for that, you will have to just picture me next to the chiminea on my parents deck with a fire going, glass of red in my hand, laughing with family as my daughters danced and sang for us. 

But for the rest of it ...

Berry pancakes and Butterbean giving you "the eyes"

Mooch protecting her sister from the Abominable Snowman while watching Rudolph

Making snowcones from their Snoopy Snow Cone maker in 40 degree weather.  These days it feels like our little girl troop is very fly-by-the-seat-of-your-pants .... we craft and cook a lot, go for lots of hikes.  Every weekend that they are with me we all sleep together in my bed, one girl on either side of me.  My mind can be racing and I can be very out of sorts, but snuggling up with them is the best sleep I have.

Shaving cream + food colouring = puffy bath finger paint

An added bonus I didn't think of before we did this - after they had painted the bathtub top to bottom, I handed them both washcloths and told them to wipe everything off.  They got into that almost as much as the painting part.  So their bathtub is now shining - not that I condone child labor.  Ahem.

And since you didn't get to see the Halloween costumes, I give you the greatest kids costumes ever.  FIN.

Monday, November 19, 2012

After The Storm

And the time came, when the risk to remain in the bud was more painful than the risk it took to bloom. ~ Anais Nin

And so it was.
The day after my oldest girl turned 7, we told the girls that we were separating.  To spare the blow-by blow, initially they both took it very hard.  I'll never forget the look in Maya's eyes when it sunk in - I could see her pain, fear, confusion, sadness.  In that moment my heart broke for my girl and if we had not tried absolutely everything to save our marriage I know that moment would have been so, so much worse.  Tegan clung to her Daddy, crying, and begged him not to go.  We both hugged her and reassured her that she would still see us both and we both loved her and her sister so much.  She calmed down very quickly, where poor Maya was a little ball of hurt for two hours, alternately sobbing hysterically or throwing things.  We took turns trying to talk to her, telling her that whatever she was feeling was normal for this and that we loved her and were sorry.  Then she consented to a ride to Daddy's new apartment to see it and the new bunkbeds, and by the time they came back and picked up Tegan and I for lunch she was even smiling a little, told me she loved me and hugged me.  We went to lunch and it was sad and happy - which seems to be a regular place for us now, this balancing of knowing that this is the right thing with the pain of making it so.  Maya brought markers to lunch and wrote "Mom" with a heart on one hand, then asked me to write "Dad" on the other hand with a heart.

My sweet little girl is doing so well.  It is absolutely not a smooth road, but she has a great counselor at her school who is helping her tremendously.  Maya is a "fixer" and it's hard for her to accept that not only did she not have a choice in this, she also can't fix it.  The girls and I are also keeping a journal together, taking turns writing in it to each other and passing it back and forth; and at the suggestion of a friend I am also keeping my own journal for them to read when they are older.  Tegan has moments of being sad about having to go back and forth between homes, and in those moments Maya always jumps in to cheer her up and help her.  That's where she shines, helping other people.  I always tell my girls "No matter what, you always have your sister" and they are absolutely growing even closer through this. 
There is so much to sort through.  We have to sell our house, I have to find someplace comfortable for the girls and I to move to, I have to buy a new car (my 12 year old car is finally giving out) but this is all small potatoes.  The only thing that matters is my daughters are going to be ok.  They'll have ups and downs but they are strong and sweet and fierce.
And I'm finding through this, and I hope to spread the message, that divorce does not have to be awful.  I am absolutely convinced that marriage is work and I recommend you try everything possible to save your marriage.  But if you get to a point where nothing is working, it's ok to decide to part ways before you hate each other, before you've said things that can't be un-said and inflicted too many wounds.  Once you have children together you are forever linked, and there is no way to sever that - so you might as well find a way to be friends and let go of the bad stuff.  It might be just as hard as trying to save your marriage, or even harder; but you can give your children the gift of two happy parents. 

I'm hoping after this post to get this blog to a new place of recipes and things that make me laugh and pictures of the greatest dog in the whole world, but there will always be updates of how my girls are doing.  Because I think the whole "children of a broken home" stigma is pure and utter bullshit.  There is no reason that divorce needs to be awful and painful, sometimes it can be just the start of a new chapter, for you and your children, a way to show them that it is ok to make a choice which allows you to grow.

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Full Moon Musings

We break it to our beautiful, perfect, sweet daughters on Sunday that we are divorcing.

It's strange that at this stage in my life it seems like the majority of the married people I know are urging me to "work things out" - as if they possibility hasn't been explored yet; while my single/divorced friends are leaning towards splitting up.  I have had a feeling a few times: I just want someone to ask me, what do you want?  My family and close friends are the only ones to go there, and the answer from my heart is always the same.  I want to be happy and I know that I can't be in this marriage.

He has asked me the same thing; what are you looking for that I couldn't give you?

Honestly, it's not that complicated.  I want to be loved and appreciated, encouraged to grow and explore.  Appreciated for my whole-hearted devotion to my daughters and my family.  To be able to cook meals for a house bursting with people sometimes, and other times just a few of my beloveds.  For someone to notice that I'm petrified of lightning when I'm outside but fascinated when I'm inside; someone that wants to know why I love sycamores so much and wants to debate with me without feeling they need to tear me down to prove a point.  I want a love that inspires my daughters to seek the same; something that will fill their hearts long after I'm gone.

I balance this with wanting to be unselfish about what is best for my daughters.  I know I'm not being the best parent I can when I'm unhappy, but how do you explain that now?  A good friend suggested I keep a journal and that's what I've been doing; writing down a lot of stuff that they can read when they are older.  Trying to be honest about what I am feeling, who their father is, who I am, and what brought us to this.  It's a love story with a twist .... a twist that goes down a very, very unexpected and undesired path.  I do want a love story, but the wool's been pulled away from my eyes.  I know who I am and I know what I want.

I've been comforting myself with thinking of all the still married but horribly dysfunctional couples I know.  Is that wrong?  I can't help but think of adult relatives who have come out of unhappy marriages and have gone on to unhappy marriages themselves.  Of course the inverse is true.  But it keeps me from thinking of all of the horrible divorce statistics for children.

If you can spare a wish, good feelings, love, a prayer, please do so for my sweet girls.  They know something is up but can't know that this is coming.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Pumpkin Carving

 These little girls of mine - to say that the last few weeks have been stressful is a huge understatement.  But they never fail to amaze me and make me smile.

  I'll get the yucky stuff over with first - my husband and I are separating.  Through LOTS of discussions, counseling, and careful consideration, we've realized we are not what the other one needs to be happy and grow and be the best people we can.  There is a mountain of work to be done with this process - we are continuing counseling, both separately and together, we have to sort out a big financial tangle with our house, figure out a schedule with our kids that will be the least disruptful, and we have to divide up the contents of our house.  So, I've had to drop my math classes for now, in order to focus all my attention on my kids and to be as present as possible with them. 

  It's funny and strange and scary and full of potential.  My husband and I are falling into a friendship routine, and doing our best to stay friendly throughout this weird-as-balls process.  We agree on how a lot of things should go with the separation, so there is that. 

  And it's fall - probably my favorite season, although I hate to have just one, you know?  I think each season makes me appreciate the next one more.  It is Halloween time though, and the girls and I get completely into it every year.  I have their costumes, they are amazing, and I'll show them to you after Halloween so you can get the full effect of their awesomeness.  But you can see our pumpkins now.

  Me:  Girls, what do we need to carve pumpkins?  What would you like to do with them?  Mooch : I want a face on mine but I also want it to look like a lantern.  Butterbean: I want paint and glitter!

The all-important pumpkin carving dance.

Mooch's solution to "making it look like a lantern"

I don't think we'll ever carve pumpkins without power tools again.