Tuesday, September 30, 2008

I Want Off The Ride! Or At Least A Chance To Catch My Breath

I’ve been waiting to write this entry, as it’s another emotional and challenging one. So please consider this as your forewarning.

Once again, it was an exhausting ride on the emotional roller coaster this weekend.

The fury and wrath from Friday fizzled later on that night, especially after catching up with my god brother. I got to get all caught up on the details of his nasty divorce and after a martini and delicious food all was well. I talked to the boyfriend later that night and Saturday started off pretty well.

The Ride UP
We took the boys to the library to get them library cards. It was really pleasant to see how excited they got when we went inside. Younger Boy automatically started looking for Thomas the Tank Engine books. Older Boy and Middle Boy sort of just looked around in awe. I pointed Middle Boy in the direction of some Curious George books and older boy sat down with a book, that he enjoyed so much he’s read about six or seven times since we brought it home.

Then we went to a little mom and pop candy shop/ice cream parlor that has been around town for years. Boyfriend felt it was necessary to get me some coconut covered in dark chocolates and we got the boys some very good sinful tasting ice cream.

Then the boyfriend and I got to go out to dinner with my parents, we had the dessert (homemade cheesecake) first, and had a rather good night.

The Ride DOWN
Well, the boyfriend and I were out to breakfast Sunday when we got word that the boys’ mother was in labor at the hospital. My stomach soured and a sudden sadness flowed over me like a fog. In fact, I seemed to absolutely stew in it … and I didn’t quite know why it was there.

We got home and I had to get out on my own. I grabbed the keys, hopped in my car and just started driving. I didn’t know where I was going. I just knew that I had to know what was causing this sadness. About halfway to where I thought I was going (about 25 minutes later) it hit me.

The sourness was jealousy that she was having another child, the sadness was almost mourning for a child that I had convinced myself that I wasn’t going to get to have.

Let me explain this. The question of “Are you two going to have children” has come up plenty of times. In my heart, of course I want to have a child one day. I want nothing more that to experience this bond between parent and child that I have observed in both the boys and their undying love for their mother and between the boyfriend and the boys.

But in my head, right now and for quite some time, it would be financial suicide. The boyfriend and I both have student loans and of course some sort of debt. Who doesn’t? But, when you have three growing boys to care for on top of it, adding a possible one or two more children (as my generation in my family my cousins have been having twins left and right) just isn’t smart. In my head, I know that it’s going to take a couple of years to get us financially stable enough to even consider having a child. And, personally, I don’t want to have any children past the age of 31. I’m 27 now.

I could blame the no-longer-existing-old-school Plan on this I think. I would most definitely like to be married before we even consider having children. And in the Plan my children would be no more than three or four years apart from each other. Having a child that much younger than the boys really just makes me uneasy. I guess from years of experience I’ve seen success and I’ve seen failure in much younger children with much older siblings. And I just don’t want it.

So I was sad, and bitter, and jealous of the girl. And of course, quite angry at myself. "Get Over It!" I yelled at myself. Of course that didn't work out too well. There she was, getting to have another child. While here I was, sacrificing and taking care of the three she decided she didn’t want to be responsible for.

“It’s not fair. What about me? When do I get to have something that I want?” I thought.

And I cried. I cried a lot. I cried practically all night. And I slept horribly. And the next day I got to hear all about Mommy’s baby. How cute he is. How soft his skin is. How little he is.

And I could only swallow my sadness and smile. You take the good with the bad when you make a choice. And you must accept all aspects of the choices you make. (I feel this is my mantra lately. Maybe I should start a club. We can make jackets.)

Will we ever have children? Who knows, it’s possible. But right now I know that it wouldn’t be the smart thing to do. Nor would it be the right thing or the responsible thing to do. And I’d much rather be childless than struggling each month just to be able to provide for the boys, the cats and us. This is either just a new obstacle I will have to learn to deal with or a new fact I’ll have to learn to accept … for now ... and eventually learn to let go of.

In the meantime, I will enjoy my new smell that I got from Bath & Bodyworks. They apparently discontinued my old smell, so I had to find a new smell. And I have oh, so been enjoying it in the form of bubble bath and after shower. Show yourself self love and pamper yourself with a nice treat when it seems like there’s no way out.

Friday, September 26, 2008

And Then I Exploded

"If you go in for argument, take care of your temper. Your logic, if you have any, will take care of itself." ~Joseph Farrell

You never quite really know just how strong and how much emotion you’ve been bottling up until it explodes on you. If you’re lucky, it’s something silly and stupid like watching one of the saddest episodes ever on One Tree Hill (“And Then I Cried” Sept 17 entry). But sometimes it’s something that really hurts you. And it all just snaps like a levy breaking on a damn…and all of hell’s fury breaks loose on the unfortunate people living in the valley down below.

Well that’s what happened today. In fact, I’m still rather furious at the boyfriend. In fact, I’m waiting for one of my childhood friends to call me back to say that he’s back from the gym so that we can go out to dinner and catch up on life. Because I’m so furious, and angry, and hurt right now that I need to get away. Because if I don’t get some away time and calm down, then I’m most likely to say something that I’m going to regret. And you can’t take things that you say back. And the most hurtful things that you would ever say to someone when you’re angry and hurt, are most likely to someone that you love. And I do love my boyfriend that I’m going to calm down first before I attempt to communicate why I’m so furious, angry and hurt.

I was looking forward to a family weekend. One that we could have fun and relax and be a family. I really wanted to bring the boys to the library to get them library cards. I really wanted to bring them to a park or something so that we could play and get some outside time outside of our apartment. Well, that all changed when I received a phone call from the boyfriend, saying that their mother had called and wanted them for the weekend.

And whatever contraption was bottling everything I’ve been pushing down inside, well that sucker flew loose. I don’t know where it is – maybe it’s somewhere behind my desk or maybe it rolled behind the TV. But I was pissed.

I understand she wants to see them. I understand that they love her and always will. But I don’t agree that she can just call at her convenience and expect to have the boys dropped off at her place because she willed it so. I want to spend time with the boys too (that isn’t on a work day.) Not to point blame or throw a pity party, trust me. I’m not. I’m just … hurt.

I gave up my life to come and take care of the boys and to live with my new family. I take care of them every day. I wake them up and give them breakfast, I feed them lunch, I make them dinner. I help with homework and my effort, unconditional love and patience and my paycheck go toward this family. Sure, it’s only been 12 days, but I like to think that I’m a part of this family too.

It just hurts my feelings, and I’m aware that it only hurts because I’m allowing it to hurt. But it hurts. Our family is not serving to her beck and call. We’re a family too. We have plans and she really needs to call in advance if she’d like to see the boys. This really pisses me off too considering she has no sort of custody of them. She has no responsibility to them (outside of being a mother that I’ve already said my opinion on). It just … a lot of things about this situation irritate me. But this … I just can’t grasp and refuse to bow down too.

I always make a conscious effort to choose my battles. And this is a battle that I am going to pursue. I refuse to have my life revolving around her beck and call. I do not bow down to another person’s irresponsibility, especially hers.

Am I being a stubborn bitch? It’s a big possibility. But do I have a right to be angry and upset? Hell yes I do.

So here I sit. Waiting for my childhood friend to call me so that I can go out, and calm down, and after I’ve calmed down and found my smile I can calmly and rationally discuss with the boyfriend. I don’t like to be angry, but I’m not one to bow down when someone has hurt me either. I’m confrontational … it’s my personality. And if we expect to get married and live the rest of our lives together, we need to learn how to deal with this, in a way that works for the both of us.

Struggling To Merge My Two Lives

“Every person, all the events of your life are there because you have drawn them there. What you choose to do with them is up to you.” ~Richard Bach, Illusions

My being here is still kind of strange at times. (I do realize that it's only Day 12 of my new life, and perhaps my expectations of where I ought to be are a bit high.) I’ve managed to get into a routine in balancing the kids and work. However, I’m still struggling in finding balance for myself. It’s like I have two lives still, and I’m having trouble merging them on a level.

Life One – Being the girlfriend living with a boyfriend, taking care of the kids, dropping them off and picking them up from school, making sure everyone takes naps if they need to, doing the domestic goddess routine of laundry, making meals, and making sure that homework gets done.

Life Two – Being the single career-oriented business woman I’ve always been, work-a-holic wanting to get done what can get done today instead of putting it off until tomorrow.

Like I said, I’ve managed to balance these two live together so that I get it all done. However, I guess on a mental mind level, I’m having trouble leaving my single, independent career oriented mind frame behind. It’s awfully stressful trying to let go of this identity that I have been for years, upon years, upon years. This is also at times, OK more often than just “at times”, quite frightening.

I feel like I’m circling in the sea of change trying to reinvent myself. Treading water furiously as I try to figure out and build up this new identity that I’ve thrown myself into.

I’m in a new skin, and I can’t quite figure it out. I guess I can compare it to a snake. I want these beautiful new colors to shine through, yet I’m not ready to full shed my old skin.

I’ve always been about business. I was my class secretary in high school for all four years, doubling up as the associated student body secretary and senior class secretary my senior year. In college I quickly got involved in Student government as a freshman and stepped up to a Vice Presidential position my sophomore year. In addition I was involved in sorority and was the CPA president, and the Features editor for the newspaper. And after I transferred to my other university I was a sorority alumnae volunteer, fraternity sweetheart and worked again on the newspaper staff. Even now, I’m still a region wide advisor in sorority, still somewhat active in volunteering and community service for the fraternity and sorority, and working a full-time job.

Am I overdoing it? Not really, for me at least. I realize that others couldn’t handle it, others wouldn’t want to handle it. But, oh, how I love the chaos of it.

And here I am. My reality is that I am no longer that single, career-oriented business woman. I’m more the career-oriented, nurturing, business instant mother. Except my mind frame is split between the single, career-oriented business woman and the nurturing instant mother. And on some days, it’s driving me up the wall.

The most successful moment I think I’ve had was when I made home-made playdoh for the boys. They were playing with the playdoh, I had a phonics CD playing on my computer and I was doing my work. Why can’t my poor mind run that smoothly every day?

Again, I remind myself that I chose this life. I want to be here and I want the boyfriend and these boys here. And, I guess it will just take some more time for me to rediscover myself and learn to balance and merge my two lives into one. Why does growing up take so long?

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Being A Role Model

Have you ever heard yourself saying something to your child and mid-sentence thought “Am I really saying this? OMG, I’m turning into my mother/father/grandmother” but had to continue saying it because the child is looking at you waiting to sink it all in? Well, I experienced this last night.

Middle Boy was pretty vocal about the fact that he didn’t like what we were having for dinner.

MB: “I don’t want it.”
Me: “You should be thankful that you have food. Some children don’t get to eat food every night for dinner….*insert pause as realization of what is coming out of my mouth and sideways glance at boyfriend who is wide-eyed and shoveling food into his mouth to keep from laughing*…because *insert another pause as I think of a good reason that is going to make sense to a 5-year-old because I’m pretty sure he wouldn’t understand any reason from my Non-Western world college course*… their families … can’t afford to buy food as often as we do.”

And then I sat there and took a drink from my cup, because the cup was big enough to hide the slight frown/grin/laugh that was forming on my lips.

I really couldn’t tell you who said that to me, but I know that it was some adult figure in my life. And as embarrassing as it was, I’m rather thankful for the role models I’ve had, because without them, I don’t know if I would have the strength to do what I do.

Some of them are role models of who I don’t want to be.

The overprotective ex-boyfriend’s mother who automatically didn’t like me because I (and the rest of the female population) just wasn’t good enough for her baby boy.

The mother who was so interested in spotless, clean perfection that her kids weren’t allowed to be kids and have fun – like playing in the dirt/sand because God Forbid you get your jeans all dusty.

There are the role models of who I do want to model myself after.

My mother is a role model of who I’d like to be. It helps that I did follow in her path of getting involved in child development. And trust me, I’ve already put in the “Mom, I have a kid issue question for you” regarding homework. Again, Middle Boy really didn’t want to read at home. So my mom came over and helped show all of us how reading can be fun to a kindergartner, and so far, we haven’t had an issue in reading since.

My mother has also always been the mother who helped push me to be independent and taught me to hold myself accountable. That my actions cause reactions and that other people may get their feelings hurt and to handle my friends with loving care and respect.

Not that she’s perfect, who is? I also have gathered that I’d like to have somewhat of a relationship with my boys. I want to know what is going on in their heads. I’d like them to feel comfortable talking to me about things and in asking me for help. (Something I still struggle with often with my own parents.)

There are also role models that have inspired me to take on the challenge of instant motherhood. Women that have given me hope that there is a light at the end of a very frightening path.

My Editor from my old job showed me that it’s possible to be a mother and have a full-time job in my chosen career. And although I’m no longer doing what I was doing, I am managing to be a stay-at-home mom and hold a full-time work from home job.

My other inspiration was my high school sweetheart’s mom (step mom). She also became an instant mom to three boys. It wasn’t easy, I could tell growing up. But those boys did respect her and care. And she did it. She’s still doing it, even with a fourth child that they had later on, and now a new grandson.

I’m very thankful for all of the role models I’ve had along the way. Also for the fact that I took all of it in and can reflect back on it. (Is that the mature growing up in me?)

And I want to make sure, that no matter what bad role models my boys (and any future possible children come along) have encountered, I want to make sure that I am a positive example of how a woman can be and what a woman can do…even if it’s taking quite a few for the team by not causing more drama or sounding like my mother now and then.

Monday, September 22, 2008

Balancing My Emotions

This last weekend was rather rough for a couple of us in the household. At least there were a couple of meltdowns.

There was a collision of emotions for me this Sunday for sure – anger, frustration and a whole lot of stress. It’s all a perception and a mind frame, and I do know this. It just doesn’t help when things happen to feed the fire.

Middle Boy woke up in the middle of the night crying, and saying that he wanted to come home. “I want to come home” he wailed. Flailing his limbs out at both me and the boyfriend and wandering around aimlessly, obviously lost and confused. He does this every time, at least as long as I’ve known him, he spends the night at his mother’s house. Which as I’ve said, isn’t very often; which is also why I can honestly say that every time he’s spent the night at his mother’s house, the next night he wakes up crying and lost.

It breaks my heart and I’m rather lost on what to do. Is “Home” with us because he’s not used to sleeping somewhere else? Is “Home” with her because that’s where she is even though she hasn’t lived with them for well over a year? What do I do to help him, console him, comfort him? It's hard to help someone that you don't understand, so patience, unconditional love and hugs is all I can offer.

Instinct tells me not to let him spend the night over there until he can mature a bit, or at least understand the situation a bit. “She can spend the day with them, but he can’t spend the night. Hold the woman accountable for her choices. It’s not fair to him that she gets to decide when she sees them and we bow down to it!” I scream inside.

I’ve always been rather hard core about holding people accountable for their actions – especially myself. But that line here is rather gray. (I guess it goes back to my post about smudged lines.) Is it really horrible of me to want to hold her accountable for her actions? For her choices? I guess it’s just something that I’ve learned while growing up. Holding myself accountable and doing the right thing, and making sure that I’m being responsible and not focusing in on the wrong things. And also, making sure I hold other people accountable. I can't push all the blame on myself if I accept that other people need to hold themselves accountable also. If they fail in doing so then I shouldn't beat myself up. Because before I learned this lesson, I would have.

Back on topic, it drives me up the wall that this is happening. She’s their mother, she always will be. That can’t be changed. But it just doesn’t seem fair to the kids. They love their mother, but their mother’s actions just don’t add up. She chose not to have any sort of custody of them. So does that mean that if the kids are having a rough time with situations that we try to work things out so that it’s best for them and not to please her?

It’s all so confusing. What’s right? What’s wrong? What’s fair to everyone, but what’s best for the boys. Am I being responsible? Am I being too responsible? Am I being unreasonable or too Capricornish? Maybe a little bit of "all of the above?" Or maybe I'm being a bit too hard on myself (as usual).

Back to the topic (for reals this time) …this last waking up in the middle of the event left me exhausted. The anger welled up and then ... fizzled. I woke up this morning, and the wanting to hold people responsible and accountable is still there, but the anger inside was gone. I’ve decided that the wonderful little things are just far too good to pass up enjoying. The anger, I know that will always be there, but I will try my best not to lie in it. My last post talked of needing to find a way of dealing. I think it’s more that I need to find a way of balancing the emotions. The wonderful happy ones should far outweigh the negative ones, even if at times it seems that there are more negative ones. Wonderful Happy Moments by far bring warm fuzzies to my soul, and I much prefer to feel those than a sour upset stomach.

Wonderful Happy Moments of Today:
*Older Boy asking “When are you and daddy getting married?” (this just made me laugh…because he has asked this before.)
*While helping me put clothes in the washing machine Middle Boy tells me “Crys, when I get to school today I’m telling my teacher that I helped my mommy put clothes in the wash.” (Me = mommy. Although this is awfully confusing because they call their mother “Mommy” also. I guess you have to know the context to understand who they are talking about.)
*Middle Boy running up excited and giving me a big hug after school today.
*Middle Boy (picky eater) asking for seconds on his pizza tortilla (a creation from my childhood.)

And the day is still pretty new, so there are more moments to come.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Overcoming The Anger Within

"Anybody can become angry, that is easy; but to be angry with the right person, and to the right degree, and at the right time, and for the right purpose, and in the right way, that is not within everybody's power – that is not easy." ~Aristotle

I’m not an angry person, but I do have an immeasurable amount of undirected anger built up inside of me. I’m not sure why. Perhaps it’s leftover bitterness from ex-boyfriends who dared lay a hand upon me. Perhaps it’s from other wrongdoings against me. Perhaps it’s even from the very hatred I had for myself at one point, many moons ago. I’m now very much an optimistic person. It takes a lot to get me really angry, and even more to get me angry at you.

One huge struggle that I’ve had since becoming involved in my relationship is the red hot white anger that I have toward the boys’ mother. I’ve learned to swallow it down and hide it behind a kind smile. That kind smile only slightly turns up at the edges, because I’ve been told that too much frowning will give you wrinkles. The boyfriend I’m sure can sense it, he can read me better than most. (And I guess it goes back to bottling up feelings again, but this is one that can’t be helped at the moment.)

There seem to be a lot of reasons this anger shoots hot through my veins. The uppermost reason is that I just can’t seem to understand or grasp why she doesn’t want them in her life. They love her, and she can only bear to see them once in a while when she feels like it, and makes an effort to call and ask for them? I guess I should be thanking her for the choices she’s made. Because if she hadn’t made those choices then I wouldn’t have this wonderful man and I wouldn’t have these three amazing boys in my life. (Was it a sign or pure coincidence that I met the boys on Mother’s Day?)

But I still can’t help but swallow the anger down. At this point in my life, she’s really the only cause of me feeling it. I feel hurt, I feel disappointment and even frustration – but generally not anger. Specifically the red hot white anger like the kind I feel toward her. I sit there and try to reason with myself. “She can’t be that bad, she can’t be that selfish, she has to have some sort of nurturing and loving nature if she had three boys (with another on the way).” But then I keep finding things out that keep smashing any hopes I have of her being a good person or at least a decent human being. (Perhaps my expectations of a decent human being are too high?)

I don’t want to spend the rest of my life with a sour stomach because she failed the boys at being a decent mother. I’ve always tended to turn anger toward another person toward myself. (Don’t ask me why, it’s a torturous thing I’ve always done that I’ve actually come a long way in not doing in the last year or so.) I’ve learned that it’s OK to be angry toward someone. But – this powerful emotion has to be handled with gentle hands. There’s a time and a place and a degree to be angry, and then there’s a time and a place and a degree to let it go.

Another part of this anger is that I see what I am doing for these boys, with these boys – and I can’t understand why she can’t even put forth 1/4th of the effort that I am putting forth for them. I quit my job and moved up here (I realize I’m crazy, and lucky as my company appreciated my work enough that they created a new job opportunity for me up here) and have jumped feet first into this ocean of change (vast change). And she, well she just quit them, and pokes her head in when she feels like it. (Maybe I’ve just dramatized it all in my head, but the words I type are truth. And in this world truth sucks sometimes.)

My homework that I’ve assigned myself is to find a way to let go of the anger. She’s always going to anger me as a human being. She’s always going to disappoint me as a mother. But I’m going to work on not allowing the anger to become so great and powerful that I can’t see past it. My life (as challenging as it is right now) is far too precious and wonderful to let someone like her ruin it. I’m a much better (and bigger) person than that.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

And Then I Cried

Day two was a lot more of an emotional struggle than I could have ever imagined. There should be a packet or something that you can sign up for that will tell you tips and hints to becoming a step mom – or perhaps just a booklet full of tips and hints from other step moms.

On the way home from school on Monday, Middle Boy said to me, “This isn’t my last house. When I get older I’m going to live with my mommy.”

I sat there a little stunned … what do you say to that? I tried, “We’ll you’ll have to talk to your daddy about that, but right now you’re living with your daddy and me.”

He responded with, “I think mommy will like me living with her.”

My heart ached. How do you tell a 5-year-old child that his mommy didn’t want him? That she didn’t care to have any sort of custody or responsibility for him. What the hell are you supposed to say to that?

I told the boyfriend later that night, I’m really not sure if he’s talked with him about it or not. But the look on his face seemed to be of the same pained, aching expression of “How do I tell him this?”

My heart continued to ache though. I pushed it down like I do with most uncomfortable emotions that I feel – that was, I learned later that night, the wrong thing to do. Day Two was most definitely an emotional roller coaster.

Not an overwhelming “I can’t do this” sort of thing. Not even really an “Am I crazy? What am I doing here?” sort of thing. It was most definitely an “I’m really scared …No one told me how unnatural and painful this could be” sort of thing.

I’ve handled change. I’ve handled change of all kinds, but, the change was generally my own. It wasn’t shared with three children and a boyfriend. It was like my sensory was turned to extra sensitive. I seemed to feel everything. I even felt for the cats yesterday.

And then I watched my favorite all time little guilty pleasure (One Tree Hill). And it was one of those heart-wrenching shows … the kind that you know is going to probably going to make you cry so you grab a box of Kleenex. And then you watch it, and you really cry. But once the show was over, the tears didn’t stop – they just kept falling. Once they start, it unleashes the floodgates of bottled up emotions. And oh wow, there was a lot built up in there.

The bath didn’t seem to help, and neither did the shower and neither did lying on my bed in the dark trying to calm myself down. And of course, when the boyfriend and the boys got home from his sisters house, I tried really hard to suck it all in. There was no fooling the boyfriend. And I felt them, the walls going up. Trying to push him away, literally trying to will him to move back and leave me. “Don’t do it!” I pleaded with myself. “But this is what I’ve always done!” I replied. “Well, not anymore!” I said back. “It’s time to change.”

That is the most annoying thing I’ve ever been told “It’s what I’ve always done.” I refuse to let this bring me down. I can make it through this, even if it’s always going to be like this. I will find a way to live this life, because I want it badly enough. I wish that I had a better clue of how to handle it, but I know that I’m not alone. I know that other women have done this before me, and I can and will do this too.

This has always been my philosophy and the way I’ve lived my life: "Risk more than others think is safe. Care more than others think is wise. Dream more than others think is practical. Expect more than others think is possible."
-Claude Thomas Bissell

Monday, September 15, 2008

Day 1 – Then I Jumped, And Here I Am

The last couple of days have been rather chaotic. Clearing through junk, packing, driving, moving…moving is not on my top 100 lists of things I like to do. But here I am.

I had my last day as a Website Editor at my company on Friday, packed up what I could and moved up to Northern California Sunday and here I am, Day 1 of my new life.

And there’s so much change that I have been trying to prepare for… and, well Bob Dylan sang it best … the times they are a-changin'.

Let me romanticize it for you a bit.

There I was standing at the edge of a cliff, in my black power suit and shiny heels…the independent, career-oriented girl staring out across the ocean of change below. And it appeared that happiness, love and happily ever after were on an island a couple of miles out. And the only way to get there was to jump and swim.

Behind me was comfort of a job and some good friends that I wouldn’t trade for the world, but happiness and love weren’t here. At least not the ones that I knew existed.

Being the risk taker I am, of course I jumped.

And here I am, freshly walking out of the ocean of change (still dripping with it), and panic settled in this morning around 5:30 a.m.

What the hell was I doing here? Could I really live with a boyfriend? Could I really live with the three boys? Could I really do my new job from home, care for this new family, keep my sanity and not royally mess it all up? When did this growing up happen anyway? There were so many “Can I really do this,” “What am I doing,” and “Are you crazy” phrases pouring through my head.

And then, the strong-willed fighter inside of me bitch-slapped the insecure doubtful scaredy-cat inside me and said, “Pull your self together woman!” And I got myself up out of bed, took a shower, made some pancakes for breakfast and brought the boys to school.

I’m sure that there are going to be many more times that I’ll go through a panic fit … because change is scary, especially when it’s something as big as this. But I know that I can do it. And as scary as it is, I'm already a lot happier being here with the boyfriend and the boys (and the cats).

Highlight of this morning: I was putting a fresh diaper on Younger Boy. And I’m staring at it, trying to figure out “How do I fasten this?” Then I realize – “Woman, the diaper is on backward!” How many diapers have I changed lately? Quite a few! What a way to start off Day 1.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Gray With Smudges Versus Defined Black And White

"See I thought love was black and white, That it was wrong or it was right"
~ Missy Higgins, Where I Stood

I’m starting to think that I need these boys about as much as I think they need me. In their own ways they’ve been reminding me that enjoying life is important. And that sometimes it’s not about coloring inside the defined lines.

On Saturday morning Older Boy and I were making pancakes for breakfast. He had first asked if he could help, and I told him I would let him know when I was ready for him. Then I thought better of it, and let him pour in the ingredients as I mixed them up in the bowl. Then, there we were. He was pouring the batter in the pan and I was flipping them.

He looked at me and said that Middle Boy and Younger Boy were missing out on delicious pancakes. “They sure are,” was what I said smiling.

OB: I heard that you were sad because they didn’t come.
Me: I was sad. *Pause* But I’ll be able to see them next weekend. But we’re having fun now, aren’t we?
OB: Yes we are. I’m going to try that sausage.

It was a little frightening that I could feel so vulnerable and exposed like that. I’m not one to share my inner most emotions, much less if I am feeling anything other than “I’m going to take over the world today.” And yet, with the words coming out of an 8-year-old’s mouth … it kind of made me change the way I handled myself in the situation.

It’s not just about turning something sad into a positive. It’s making sure that the boys know that even if I am sad or upset, it’s OK. And that I like being with them and that I’ll still be here. I know that my feelings are important, but so are theirs.

And of course, as usual, that got me thinking. And that innocent little sentence … well that little thing makes a lot of sense (even if just for a minute).

By “makes a lot of sense” I mean that maybe my perception was out of focus and for a slight minute it’s suddenly been brought back into focus. And I had better grasp on before it slides back out of focus.

My perception had been so focused on how love ought to be. Perhaps it was because of how I was brought up. Perhaps it was because of Disney’s Princess complex. (Your true love will come into your world and sweep you off your feet.) Or maybe it was all of the lovey dovey sugar and spice dreams a young girl has that sticks with her despite the moments that she realizes the perfect romance is a load of crap.

I realized that in my mind, Love was black and white. It was either there or it wasn’t. The lines defining it of what I wanted it and expected it to be were so crisp, so hard, so defined … there was no room for error or smudges. And man, my love right now, I realize, is lined with a lot of gray from all the smudges.

And I don’t say that because I’m confused, or because I’m not sure. I’m very sure. It just wasn’t exactly what my “Ideal Romance” consisted of. And if this is going to work, I need to allow myself to smudge up my perception a bit. To allow room to color outside the lines, because nothing in my lifetime is going to follow my “Ideal Romance.” And although my love story is somewhat of a wonderful fairy tale come true, I need to remember that it’s not perfect. It’s just life. And life is full of changes and lessons and more changes.

All that perception, out of one sentence from an 8-year-old boy and some not-so-golden pancakes, who would have thought…

Friday, September 5, 2008

Finding Happiness Between Point A And Point B

The event from my last entry has really been on my mind all day. Not really stewing on it, but how can I better myself from this experience. How can I make this a better situation? Well, I have today off from work, I’m supposed to be packing, but instead I’ve been cleaning up the wonderful mess left behind from roommates and my cats’ messyness so that when Older Boy and the boyfriend get here tonight, it will be clean. And while doing the dishes, I had a thought. Significant enough that I had to come here and write it down before it slipped away into the other thoughts of the day.

In college as a Sigma Chi Sweetheart, I learned that you can always better yourself, no matter how close you think you are to being your best. I also firmly believe that everything that happens to you in life is a lesson to be learned, and that your life is a result of the choices you make, and the way you live your life between your lessons (getting from point A to point B).

Well, while washing the dishes, I came across the thought that maybe the lessons I thought I had already learned…perhaps as I get older and wiser some of those lessons need to be revisited, revised and relearned.

Specifically, the lesson of “Not allowing the choices that other people make affect my life.”

This was a lesson that I first was told in college my sophomore year. A friend of mine killed himself, and I was at the edge of a very dark place. The Spring semester had literally just started three days earlier. On my second class session, after this had all happened, my Shakespeare professor pulled me out of class and told me, “I know that this is hard right now for you. But you can’t allow the choices that other people make affect your life. You need to learn to walk away from this a stronger person.”

At the time, I was too distraught to absorb this. In fact, this didn’t even find its way through the fog of depression well until I had already withdrawn for the semester to sort things out. But from then on, I lived my independent life making sure that my choices were my own, and not allowing other people’s choices to have an effect on my life. And if it became an issue, I simply walked away. I didn’t need other people’s bad choices to drag me down.

Of course, in college other people’s bad choices generally revolved around drinking, smoking, drugs and whoring themselves out. On another level, there were also the annoying irritating girls they often slept with and insisted on bringing over to the house. But they were easy to ignore.

Well, now I find that this lesson and solution don’t apply in the same way. I can’t escape my boyfriend’s choices. There is no easy get away plan. And it’s really frustrating…and as my own worst critic…I’ve really been coming down on myself to figure it out. So what’s a girl to do?

I think that I need to relearn this. I need to revise my solution of walking away because, although it’s an option, it’s not an option that I want to choose. I’ve already decided that it’s not an option. Instead of telling myself to grow up and get over it, I need to figure out something else. Because “Grow up and Get Over It” just isn’t working.

I have enough faith in myself that I’ll figure it out…or at least figure out a temporary solution outside of pushing the icky feeling down and letting it bottle up inside, because eventually that’s not going to work any more either.

Interestingly enough, I’ve experienced more horrors in a lifetime than any woman should. But this, this is the thing that has me all hung up. And really, I refuse to let myself make myself miserable between this point of figuring out that I need to relearn this lesson and the day that I finally find the solution. I will figure this out, and this thing that has me all hung up, this will make me a better person.

Thursday, September 4, 2008

The Little Green Bolt

So I had something rather positive to write about tonight, and then I talked to the boyfriend on the phone, and I don’t really feel like writing about it anymore. I don’t want what I’m feeling now to taint it.

The boyfriend and the three boys were supposed to all come down this weekend to see me. Well, now it’s just the boyfriend and one of the boys, because the other boys are going to stay at their “Real Mom’s” house (as she was called tonight by one of them). What sucked even more was being told:

“I pulled them aside individually and asked them, ‘Do you want to go down to see Crys or do you want to stay here with Mommy?’”

Well, we all can figure out what each of them said. So Older Boy is coming down here to see me, and Middle Boy and Younger Boy are staying up there.

I’m not quite sure what upsets me more. That fact that I don’t get to see all three of them (because I really was looking forward to seeing all of them) or that two of them didn’t want to come see me.

It makes me feel rather sad and bummed and a bit jealous. And man, I hate feeling jealous. That little bolt of green does nothing but make my stomach turn sour. And damn, I’ve had to fight that little bolt of green a lot lately. It makes me feel so immature and childish and high school drama-ish. But it’s there, and it’s a feeling, and I can only continue to tell myself that maybe, one day, it will finally go away.

I feel that little bolt of green for a lot of things. And they all seem really stupid.

My Top 5 Stupid Reasons (Occurrences) of the Little Green Bolt:
  1. I wasn’t his first wife
  2. Those kids aren’t mine and (technically) never are going to be
  3. That the mere mention of “her” from his lips seems like a kick in the stomach (whether the mention is negative or revolting)
  4. That “Our Real Mom” compared to “Our Step Mom” just sounds so less nasty and icky and feels like an ever swifter kick to the stomach (perhaps with a steel-toed boot)
  5. That I have to share my new life with her, in some capacity, and it’s more of an ultimatum than a choice. (Either I have my boys or I don’t. If I do she’s there and if I don’t none of them are there.)

I should be my positive self, and focus on the fact that Older Boy DID want to come see me. But no, that damn little green bolt is insisting that it stay in my mind and heart just a bit longer. So here I am, deciding which book I’m going to read so that I can get my mind off of it. Reminding myself “This is the life you chose” and trying to convince myself “Maybe this will get easier one day.”

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

411 Miles

411 Miles … that is the distance that currently separates me from the boyfriend and the boys. (Technically 428 miles if I’m leaving from work.)

I didn’t know that it would be this hard to be so far from them. I guess it shows how much I’ve grown to care about all of them, and how much they’ve really become a part of my life.
11 Days is the countdown to when I move up to Nor Cal. And trust me, I’m counting down the days.

One of the things heavy on my mind lately is my commuting between my job and my life up there with them. It’s like having two lives. It’s an awfully long commute between what feels like home and having to go to work. 411 miles away.

Even more so, though, is that I don’t want the boys to ever get the impression that I’m going to leave and not come back. I’ve made sure to tell them when I’ll see them again, each time before I leave. I couldn’t begin to imagine what it would be like to be a child, and to have to try and process through my mind that my mother had left. Much less that she had chosen to leave and didn’t really care to have custody of me.

So it’s been very important to me that they know that I’m coming back, and that I want them in my life, without being overwhelming.

At first I got the half hugs … the kind of, “Oh, Crys is here” looks and glances. And it sucked. It royally blowed feeling like you’re the only one excited to be there. It’s like in college (or high school maybe) when you’re totally into a guy. And you put all your heart and effort into being there for him, helping him, caring for him. And then one day, you realize that he could care less if you (specifically you) are there or not.

But this … loving children that deserve as much love as you can possibly give … I know that it takes time. No matter how long it takes. And even with the risk of knowing that I may never receive it back, I’ve given them the best care that I know how and all of the love I possibly can give.

I was up in our new apartment this weekend moving some more stuff in. And, like all the other weekends until the big move, it came to the time when I had to pack my bags and head back down to go to work the next day. The boyfriend told them I was going to be leaving soon and Middle Boy innocently looked at me and asked “Who will care for us?”

It was funny and cute and painful at the same time. Funny because it was random, Cute because he was serious, and painful because I was leaving to go to work 411 miles away.

MB: “Who will care for us?”
Me: “Well, I’m going to fix some dinner for later this week. And your Daddy will take care of you until I get back. Is that OK?”
MB: “OK”

I felt rather important that day. Important, and loved, and needed and accepted.
To top it off, before I left I got three really good real hugs … from all three of the boys. And I think that’s a pretty good sign that maybe I’m doing something right. (Considering I’m winging it here.)

And even though I’m 411 miles away right now…those hugs bring a big smile to my face and I’m filled with warm fuzzies.