The unseen forces that shape who we become

I had a lovely weekend, it was relaxing and productive in many ways.  I went out for sushi on friday night, found a great coffee shop on saturday morning and then went furniture and appliance shopping for the new house with one of my best girlfriends.  I wasn’t feeling very good after that and spent the rest of the evening relaxing with a movie and a cozy fire.

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Today I got the pleasure of seeing Nana and Granddad.  It was a wonderful visit.  We had lunch and spent time catching up.  As I was leaving, my Mom called.  She was at the hospital across the street with my other grandma and a few family members.  My grandma had had a stroke, and she wanted me to come and say my good-byes.

Is it wrong of me that truthfully, I was only going for my step dad?  There are very few people in the world that I could honestly say I view as my “hero”, but he is most definitely one of them.

I have always admired his quiet strength.  How, even when he was angry with me, or someone else, he would take the time he needed to work through it in his head, and then come back and address things calmly.  As a teenager, when I’d fight with my mom, it was him who would come and hear my side.  He’d always listen.  He might not always agree with me or my approach, but he’d let me say my piece.  And then he’d share my mom’s side, and then he’d share his own perspective, and somehow, we’d always find a resolution.  He was always the one person who could quiet the stormy seas and make everyone feel calm again.

I adore that he’s silly and playful.  He’d wake me up in the mornings singing “We all live in yellow submarine” as loud as he could.  He’d make up silly songs about whatever we were doing or tell fart jokes, or quote monty python.

Today, I saw his strength crack.  I’ve only seen that maybe twice in my life.  And I remember the last time, I felt the same as I do now.  There’s something not quite right in the world when this man, whom I adore and look to for calm and quiet strength, cracks.  He was doing just fine until I got there and gave him a hug.  And he quickly gathered himself back up and drew it all back in.  He was staying strong for everyone in the room.

Seeing my grandmother today was more difficult than I’d anticipated it would be.  I haven’t attended gatherings at her house for a year or two.  She looked so different.  So thin and frail.  It broke my heart and made me feel scared to ever be put in her shoes.

Because this is my blog, I’m going to share some things… to the few family members who read my blog – please – know that I love my grandmother very much.  I’m not trying to tarnish anything about her… but this is my one place to be honest.

I have always had mixed feelings about my grandmother.  She’s my step grandmother, and when I was young, she made a more than a few comments that made me feel like I would never truly be a part of the family.  When I got older, I went through a phase where I wanted her to like me and connect with me, I even got a job in the banking world, an industry that she spent her career in.  She was a lovely cook and I’d often try and learn her recipes or talk kitchen tricks with her.

When my daughter was a baby, my grandmother watched her for a few days each week.  She loved and adored Alayna.  She would sit and rock her all day.  She wouldn’t even put her down and use the restroom while she was under her care.  I worked two jobs at the time to try and make ends meet, and I was so lucky to have grandma there to watch my daughter.  We didn’t always agree on things and occasionally she would make comments that hurt my feelings.  She’s of a different generation.

I loved family gatherings at her house, and hated them all at the same time.  🙂  I love that family, but grandma, as she got older, would extend visits as long as she could with the entire family.  She’d make the younger children wait until past their bedtime to open presents and the evenings just became harder and harder.  Grandma didn’t see the problem with playing favorites among the children and grandchildren, and I hated having to explain to my children why they were often left out.  So we slowly stopped going to the family gatherings.

Families are complex systems with a multitude of millions of parts.  I never really thought of how much those little moments and pieces and parts affected who I am today.

Grandma was always trying to serve and host others.  Even at the expense of herself.  She was giving and loving and loyal to her family.  Her children are truly some of the most kind and genuine people.  All of which have giant hearts and infectious laughs.  They wouldn’t be who they are without her.  She was a divorced single mom.  I don’t ever remember a man being in her life and instead, did it on her own.

I think I had a moment today when it really sank in that as much as I love her, grandma was wrong about one thing.  Blood doesn’t make you family.  I’m not related to her by blood, but I love her.  I love her family.  My family.  I’m honored and blessed to have them in my life.  I’m sad that change has hit our family today.  A big change. But I know that we’ll weather this change.  I know, because I’m just like them.  I too, channel moments when I embody strength, loyalty, kindness, and a selflessness for others.

I think overall, I handled the day well enough.  I came home and asked one of the roommates for a hug.  I just wanted a friend at that moment.  It had been a long drive home and I already wasn’t looking forward to coming home.  It didn’t really go over very well.  I got a very half-hearted hug and then what felt like being completely shut out.  It hurt.  It made me feel like there was no friendship there.  It helped me learn, yet another lesson.  Be careful who you go to for comfort or support because if you’re not, sometimes, you’ll just get burned.

Goodnight Neverland, much love to you.

lipstick kiss

Perhaps I’m a Mom with High Standards?

Sometimes I think I owe my parents a huge apology.  I can remember being a brat to them.  I can remember doing it and not even fully knowing why I was doing it.  Tonight, my four year old pulled it on me.  He’s been testing me all week and tonight it came to a climax.  I love him so much, and yet sometimes, he frustrates the fuck out of me.  I had to walk into the hallway and count to ten before going back in his room to handle him.

It’s nights like these, when I feel like a total failure as a mom.  My usually unending patience reaches it’s low point and I can’t take anymore.  When I don’t care that he only has 6 of his 12 stuffed animals, and I don’t want to play the window open, now window shut game.  It was a long day and all I can think about is how lovely it will feel to lay down and shut my eyes and sleep.

You cannot fail

My son has so much energy.  More than my daughter ever had, and that’s saying something.  He’s either on or off.  There is never an in-between.  When he’s up and awake, he’s non-stop running around, making noise, talking, asking a million questions at 100 miles a minute.

I know I’m not a bad mom, but when the patience level runs that low, it makes me wonder.  I love being a parent, and yet if my patience can drop like that – maybe it somehow means I shouldn’t have.  Maybe it somehow signals that I’m a screw up?  I’ve read a ton of articles that say I’m not.  Met plenty of mom’s who all grow through these same feelings.  That makes it easier… and yet it still doesn’t erase those little seeds of doubt.

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Where did these ideals even come from?  Why are women and mothers so preoccupied with being our own versions of a super mom?  Ok, that’s a generalization, as not every mom is preoccupied with that.  But it sure seems that a large majority of mothers compare themselves to other mothers, as well as compare our children to other children. Why?  Where did we get this silly notion that perfection within a human being can even be achieved?  It’s hypocrisy.  We are human.  Our children are also human.  We’re fallible. When, if ever, will we be satisfied with that?  When, if ever, will it be ok to realize that you just need to take a mommy time out and relax?

My standards aren’t really even my standards.  They come from examples I had growing up, from movies and books, from friends and their parents, and neighbors and teachers.  They are the standards set by the society I surrounded myself with.  It makes me question… what ARE my standards of me?

If I think about it.. I really kind of only have a select few.

1.  Always give everything you’ve got. Try and keep trying, even when you fail.

2.  Share an endless supply of love.  There should never be a question in anyone’s mind.  If you’re my family, then I love you and you should know it by how I act and what I say.  Love is infinite, there’s always more of it give.

3.  Be loyal and show respect.  I take care of others before myself; not because I don’t value myself, but because I respect others.  If I have something that someone in my family wants or needs… I’ll give it up, or share it.  That’s just the way of it.

4. I aim to never shame myself or my family.  This falls into the being good and moral and doing what’s right kind of category.  To uphold myself and those I love in the very best of standings that I can.

There are more, but I’d say these are probably the top on my list.  Some of my friends say I’m an odd traditionalist at times.  Looking at this list.. am I?  Maybe the newer generations don’t think like this?  I don’t know.  I’d be curious to find out.

Goodnight neverland.  I’m going to go enjoy a mai tai and try and get a little relaxation before I drift off and start another day.  🙂  Much love.

lipstick kiss

Judgy McJudgertons

I’m annoyed.  Actually, that’s probably not quite coming close to describing it. Figured I’d work through it here.

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Why do people feel the need to judge or speak up and say something if they don’t have a damn clue as to what they’re really talking about?  Unless you walk in my shoes.. perhaps you should just keep those thoughts to yourself.  I’m not perfect.  I recognize and admit that 100 percent of the time.  I reserve the right to get smarter.  And typically – I do.  When I make a mistake, I learn from it.

The hardest job I have, is to be a parent.  And to be honest, there are things I do well, and things I don’t do as well. I know where my shortcomings lie… hell, they became more apparent to me when I became a single parent.  There is a hell of a lot of WORK involved.  There’s a lot of joy too.  I love my kids.  I’d do anything for them.  That doesn’t mean they don’t sometimes frustrate the hell out of me though.  I’d say that’s allowed.

I have my children on a 50/50 time schedule with the ex husband.  He loves his kids, and while he may occasionally make a decision that I wouldn’t, and I may not support his methods of handling his anger – he’s a pretty dang good father to them.  I’m happy that he puts the efforts he does.

Being a single mom is strange.

The times I don’t have my kids, I spend either catching up on chores and doing the things I don’t enjoy doing with my 3 year old (grocery shopping and laundry are my big ones), or working late, or trying to have a love life, or spending time with friends.  And the thing about being a parent, it makes you more flexible than you ever were before.  Last weekend was supposed to be a kid-free weekend.  The ex had an event that he needed to attend with his girlfriend, so I took the kids for 1 of the weekend days/nights so they could do that.  This weekend was my kid weekend, and had an thanksgiving dinner to attend at the bestie’s house, so the ex took my little one so that I could attend, as it was a kid-free kind of party.  Things always even out.  And ultimately, either way, my kids are surrounded by those who love them.  With the coming vacation, I feel a little guilty to be going away for the time I’ll be away. But it always balances out.

People who don’t have kids, are often jumping in with their thoughts and opinions on how kids should be raised, or how parents should act or feel about their kids.  I’ve had a few single friends go on and on for a lengthy conversation where they bash people who have children, then realize their error and quickly back peddle to make me an exception.  Most of the time, I let it all roll off my back.  They don’t get it.  No matter how much they protest or debate, even if they have good intentions; They won’t understand until they become parents themselves. And even then, every child is a little different.

So to those who think they know.. tell me this… Can you relate to following situations?  No?  Then shut the hell up.

1. My kids have all been early risers, they awaken with the sun and immediately want potty, juice, cereal, cartoons, “Mommy read a book”, “Mommy can you check for monsters under the bed or in the closet.”  There is no sleeping in. Ever.  BUT, most mornings include early morning snuggles.  My kids and I have seen many a pretty sunrise, and have been the first to experience a freshly fallen snow.

2. Getting ready to leave in the morning involves soooo much.  Not only do I have to get myself ready and presentable…. but I also have to negotiate with my toddler… potty, pull up, that gets only pulled up part of the way because the little man has to do it by himself.  Which results in me chasing him downstairs as I try and get close enough to pull them up and adjust them so they fit right., pants…”No, I want batman pants.”  Shirt.  Experience meltdown if you can’t find the green robot shirt.  Socks – get kicked a few times, distract with dinosaur toy and a silly dance – yay.  one sock down – Take another 5 minutes to get the second sock on.  Find shoes.  Can’t find second shoe.  Look frantically for 10 minutes to discover it lodged between a couch cushion.  Get breakfast in front of toddler while I go check on preteen to make sure she’s ready to go.  Discover she’s still in pj’s, looking like she just got up.  Nag her to pick up the pace while I spend a few minutes trying to find the red cup because the blue one is suddenly not ok to use.  Have to check on the preteen again to remind her NOT to use my hairclips without asking me first, and to put layers on as it’s cold and , hmm I think there’s a boy she’s interested in since she’s trying to let her go to school in a pretty summer dress, when it’s 30 degrees outside.

Go to work. put in a full, exhausting day.

Come home.  Check homework.  Help with any projects, get the skinny on what’s going on in the life of my preteen.  Get a load of laundry in, sweep the kitchen floor.  Sometimes I’ll cook dinner, sometimes, I’ll be tired, and will order something.  Sneak in a snuggle with the toddler.  End up giggling running around the house.  Phone rings, try and talk to the person on the other line without exposing them to the loudness that is your home.  One or both children will interrupt every 2-3 minutes.  Get dinner served.  Depending on what it is, and toddlers mood, may or may not be cleaning up dinner from floor.  Or tray, or hair.  We sit at the table, so I get to hear about everyone’s day, share snippets from my own. (I love this part of my day)

Depending on the time, my energy level or the mess… I spend the remainder of the time before they go to bed either reading books with them, playing a game with them, snuggling and watching curious George or Mulan, The preteen is into her phone right now, so we found a mobile game we could play together that doesn’t require a TON of attention to play.  If there’s a big mess, I may set them down to watch a movie so I can do dishes or get another load of laundry in.  Clean a bathroom, or unpack a box.  If I’m really lucky, I may get the chance to pay a bill, or return an email.

Bedtime arrives.  Sometimes it is fine, easy as pie, and sometimes, it takes extra hugs, or a stern reminder that perhaps not everyone in the house WANTS to give EVERY stuffed toy a hug AND a kiss and convince the toddler that perhaps the toys only needed a hug from him anyway.  After many hugs and kisses, and I love you’s all around, my kids drift off to dreamland.

Sometimes, I do laundry, sometimes, I read, or watch a movie, sometimes, I’ll play a game.  And sometimes, I look at it all and say F THAT and go pass out.

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So you see, my house gets cleaned in odd spurts, and rarely all at once.  I may get frazzled when I’ve spent the day cleaning and re-cleaning the same area 3 times or hearing the same songs in the car on repeat for 40 minute trips.  I look at the way the other two children I raised have so far, turned out… I remember that the early years are a messy time.  It gets better.  So what if the living room couch has no cushions on it because there is a fort built out of them?

I don’t like to be judged.  I spend time with my kids.  I make time with them.  When they aren’t in my care, I make time for everything else.  Sometimes it’s a juggle.  Sometimes, things come up, but in the end, it all balances itself.  Me taking a vacation will result in a more rested, happier mom.  And with xmas season being here now, it means more family traditions and more quality time.  Life balances things.

Ugh.  Thanks for letting me vent Neverland.  Love ya.  Need to run as someone had a nightmare.

Distracted

daydreams

Good morning Neverland.

I’m distracted.  I should be focused on working… as there is lots going on at work these days.  But what am I doing?  I’m sitting at my desk thinking about my vacation instead.  In just 2 short weeks, I’ll be boarding a plane and heading to a tropical beach.  It just can’t come soon enough.  I know the next 2 weeks will fly by and it will be here before I know it, heck, knowing me, it will be here and I’ll scramble to get everything packed and handled right before I go.  I’ve not been this distracted before a trip before.  Not sure why this one is so different, but it is.  I can’t seem to keep my head in the game at work.  Perhaps that also can be chalked up to the layoffs we’ve gone through recently.  Everything at work has been stressful and full of change and ambiguity.  I’d rather spend the day in bed.

There is so much I’m looking forward to.  I’m looking forward to the disconnect.  That’s the joy of traveling somewhere… wi-fi and technology can be easily rendered useless depending on where you go.  And that’s what I sought when I planned out this trip months ago.

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No hotel chains for me.  I’ve rented a small cabin.  With a kitchen and a BBQ so that I can go and pick out some fresh seafood and fruits and veggies and cook.  No little ones to answer to or wake me up too early.  No roommates.  No exes.  No work.

The ex is furious that I’m going on this trip.  And part of me can understand and part of me says F that!  Screw you! 🙂

He’s upset because we never traveled.  We couldn’t afford it.  For 3/4 of our marriage, we were pretty poor.  We didn’t have a honeymoon.  We didn’t take vacations.  I think the most time we ever spent “away from it all” would be a long weekend at a local spot.  And that was ok.  Since ending our marriage, I’ve taken quite a few trips.  6 to be exact, in varying lengths and distances from home.  I love to travel.  I get it from my grandparents.  They took me to England when I was 10 for a LONG trip.  They traveled once, sometimes twice a year.  They’d do cruises and different trips.  Australia, Japan, Europe… They’d come home and show me pictures and tell me stories of the things they experienced and the people they’d met.  I knew when I was young, that I would embrace travel.  I just never had the funds to do it.

He’s also upset because the week I’m gone, the responsibility of our children falls on him.  Last year, when I went to Hawaii, I had to pay him to watch our kids.  I knew it was ridiculous, that by all rights, I shouldn’t have to pay the children’s father to watch them… but I wanted to go, and that was my only option at the time, so I bit the bullet and forked over the cash.  I refused to do that this time, and I think he’s a little upset.  Oh well man!  Suck it up!  🙂

Travelling has opened my eyes.  I’ve seen and done a few things that I never thought I’d get to do.  I’ve met people who will always have a place in my heart, because of what they’ve shared with me.  And although I’m not necessarily a fan of sitting for long hours on a plane… I can’t wait to do it again soon, because it means I’ll have a new slough of experiences and people to add to the memory banks.

Hope you all are having a great week.

JETBLUE TURNS FIVE;  TAKES DELIVERY OF 71ST AIRBUS A320

It’s not procrastination, it’s the perspective.

procrastinate

I am a Procrastinator.  It’s a word I’d use to describe myself often.  I am a slave to my calendar and schedule.  And I’ll admit that it has helped me move forward in leaps and bounds when it comes to some aspects of my life.  I was being hard on myself earlier…thinking about the weekend and how little I felt I’d accomplished off my “To-Do” list in my head.  But then I started to think about what I DID do this weekend.  Maybe I’ve been looking at it in the wrong perspective. 

1.  Finished most of the house and my personal laundry washed, folded and put away. 
2.  Prepped all of the mini-me’s school registration paperwork and things she’d need for sign up.
3. Went for a walk with my 3 year old son
4. Finished the last episodes from a great show series and then managed to even watch the movie that followed.
5. Went and had an amazing pancake breakfast this morning. My son enjoyed the blueberry pancakes and bacon and grapes from my plate.  🙂  Was nice that he behaved well in the restaurant today.
6. Enjoyed a snuggly sunday morning.
7. Enjoyed bath time with the son twice – although I swear he gets me wetter than him sometimes. 🙂
8. I baked cookies, and tried out a funky chipotle ancho chili chicken recipe
9. I mopped and swept the kitchen floor and downstairs hall areas
10. I sorted through a couple of bags and boxes in my office
11.  I read a couple of books to the little man, played tons of dinosaurs and cars and merrily chased each other through the house on multiple occasions throughout the weekend.
12.  I wrote in my blog and got a little more done on the piece of art I’m working on.
13. I booked the flights for my vacation in November.  Can I just say, sooo excited for this.  I can’t believe it.  I don’t know how I’ve pulled it off, but it really looks like I’m going to get a good vacation.  To turn a negative time of year into such an incredible positive.  To get to unwind and get away from all the pressures of work and kids for a week.  BLISS!!
14.  Got all my grocery shopping for the next couple of weeks completed.
15.  Helped the mini-me look at planning her cosplay outfit.
16. Had a long chat with the bro.

When I really start to list out all that I did do this weekend.  Yea, ok, so I didn’t get to run the vacuum a I’d planned.  And I didn’t get to the oil change I need to do.  I had high expectations of myself, but what I did have was just as valuable.  I had some wonderful experiences with my family and loved ones. Perhaps it’s time to admit that sometimes, we get so focused on the doing, that we forget to look at the living.  I have to remind myself that yes, I’ve got to work on all those things on my to-do list, but at the same time, I also need to work on me.  And the only way to work on me, is to find the time to do the things that make me and those I love happy.

I look at that list and suddenly don’t feel like a procrastinator anymore.

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