Brynn, Home, Uncategorized

A Five Year Hiatus

I don’t know what happened but it’s mind-boggling that five years has gone by since I last wrote in this blog. Looking back, I wrote a lot more than I recalled, and in that time, Brynn’s and my lives have changed so much.

Let me start by telling you–whoever you are that reads this silly page on the Interwebs–that Brynn is now TEN YEARS OLD.

She’s ten. It blows my mind so much each day.

She calls me mom but in the annoying way with way too much emphasis on the last half of the word. Like “maaaaHHHHM”. But when she’s being sweet or wants something from me, it’s still “mama”. Or when she’s trying to get out of something, “Mama” is put into full effect.

In 2017 I met someone special; the type of person I had been waiting for. It’s hard to explain how I knew what that was and the only real way to put it is that I was waiting for a man. Not just some guy. Chris is the type of man I think most women wish for; honest, kind, smart, funny, and just good.

I sold my little house and bought an even littler one. We called it “The Little Bench Bungalow”. 888 square feet of bliss. Brynn and I absolutely adored that house.

Two years later, in 2019, that man proposed. So I put the Bungalow on the market, which was really really hard I might add, because I loved that place so much, but it was time to move forward into another new chapter.

Chris and I bought a place together for us and our kids. His son is just a year older than Brynn. And then…we got a dog. And then my life was complete, the end. Ha! Ok, I’m kidding, but let me just tangent here for a second…

Holy shit, I never knew I was such a dog person. I am the doggiest dog mom who has ever lived and I’m not even sorry not one little bit. Her name is Willow. She is my baby. Look.at.this.face.

Willow was the kids’ Christmas Present and nothing will ever top it in the history of ever. We took video and there wasn’t a dry eye in the house. It’s hard to believe she’s already almost two! She joined our family when she was eight weeks old.

Then, in February of 2020, Chris and I ran off to Vegas and did the damn thing! It was so fun. Fuck planning a wedding, fuck how much that costs, and fuck the stress of it all. Team Vegas, baby. We even saw George Straight in concert the night before our wedding!

Then we honeymooned for two weeks in the Philippines and it was incredible! We started in Cebu and swam with whale sharks and explored secret waterfalls. We went into the city for a night and did some of the most hilarious karaoke before flying the next day to Palawan. We stayed in this place in Puerto Princesa. It was one of the most incredible places I’ve ever been to on Earth. I literally cried when we got there, I was just so overcome. We explored the Underground River which is one of the New Seven Wonders of the World, then spent a few days in El Nido. We island hopped one day, walked around the village market a couple times, found a dive bar with an amazing cover band one night, ate great food, drank tons of caipirinhas, and just had a marvelous time. On the last night we stayed in a really fancy hotel in Cebu City before heading back to the states in early March, just before lockdown.

We have actually done well through the pandemic with the exception of Chris getting Covid and almost a whole year later, still having super messed up taste and smell. It’s been really terrible for him, actually. In fact, about 2 minutes ago, he took a drink of my Coke Zero and spit it out in the sink. It just tasted like chemicals.

So here we are! It’s 2021. I’m re-married, I’m a step-mom, I’m a dog-mom, I work in nonprofit, I’m a business owner on the side, and life is really pretty great!

I hope to keep this blog a little more up to date than I have over the last several years so I can better document all the things going on in our lives.

Thank you for reading!

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What I’ve learned after working in divorce for a year.

marriage-divorce

A year ago, when I began my job as the “Family Resource Specialist” (now the Family Accounts Specialist) at Wevorce, I was simultaneously excited and apprehensive. I was excited to be in a position where I could truly help people dealing with what is considered to be the 2nd most stressful life event a person can ever experience. I had gone through a divorce myself just a few years prior and felt like I had made leaps and bounds through the healing process. I was excited about the new life I was living. I wanted to give others the support I knew they needed, as well as the hope I was sure they craved.

But I was apprehensive too because divorce can be ugly. It can bring out the absolute worst in people–the worst behaviors, the worst stories, and the worst emotions. I am often times on the receiving end of some of those “worsts” and it can be hard. It’s hard to hear that the reason for a divorce is due to the death of a child and the subsequent addictive behaviors and substance abuse that followed. It’s hard to hear the terror in a woman’s voice when she’s desperately trying to get out of an abusive marriage. It’s hard to hear how badly people hurt for their children who are also dealing with the fallout of an impending divorce. And it can be hard to simply be treated like crap. It’s difficult to be sworn at, yelled at, and cried to. I have had many, MANY days where I’ve had to walk out of the office, just to go and cry myself.

But during this past year, I’ve also learned a lot. The reasons people divorce are astounding and there is no “average” client or “common” reason as to why. I have clients divorcing after just a few weeks together. And I have clients approaching 50 years who’ve decided it’s time to part ways. I have clients who have $35 in their checking accounts while others have upwards of six million dollars in assets. No one is immune to divorce, and that is a very scary truth.

So here’s what I’ve learned over a year of working at Wevorce. As it stands, I do more divorce consultations than anyone in the country. How insane is that? These are the things I’d tell anyone asking me, “How can I avoid getting a divorce”? (And for the record, I do assist with same-sex divorces. However, 99% of my clients are in heterosexual marriages, hence my use of husband and wife. But I believe what I’ve learned can be applied to all spouses):

  • Parents: make time for each other outside of your children. See concerts, take classes, find an activity you like doing together. Whatever it is that gets you away from parenthood for just a little while, do it. Because you are more than just a parent. You are also someone’s partner. Building a bond can be hard and take time, but breaking a bond can happen in a moment. I have heard so many times, “We just grew apart after we had kids.” Put time, care, and physical affection into your relationship and for god’s sake, get a babysitter.
  • Wives (and sometimes husbands): get involved in your household finances. I cannot tell you how many women I talk to a day (and I was in this boat too) who have no idea about the money coming in or going out of their households. Their husbands handle all the money and they literally know nothing about the financial legs they’re standing on. This is dangerous. Getting involved in your family’s finances doesn’t mean you don’t trust your husband. It means you have a vested interest in your financial health as well as your financial future and this can help you navigate these waters together, as a team. Know your assets and know your debts. Know what your monthly budget and expenses look like and know the monthly income. Look at your bank accounts several times a week to get a sense of what’s coming in and going out. Your partner should want to share this information with you.
  • Everyone: find activities, hobbies, and skills that are only yours. I took a communications course in college that had a subject matter that fascinated me. It was called “Opposing Tensions”. In a nutshell, it’s when two completely opposite desires crash into each other. For example, autonomy vs. connectedness. Most of us have a desire to be connected, paired, and coupled. And at the same time, most of us also have a desire to be single, independent, and self-sufficient. It’s reconciling the fact that it’s not only ok, but totally possible to be both at the same time. You can be coupled up but still have things that only belong to you. So many of my clients experience divorce and find they have nothing of their own to fall back on. So find something you enjoy. Practice it. Get excited by it. Make friends who love it too. It’s good for us to have things that are only ours; it isn’t selfish. It’s necessary to maintain some autonomy. And encourage your spouse to do the same with something they enjoy. Remember that person you fell in love with? Helping them stay connected to themselves will also be helpful to you.

I’ve also learned that it is possible to part on good terms. Divorce doesn’t have to be ugly. When it comes down to it, there are really only two things divorcing couples ever fight about: kids and money. I hear stories all the time of people spending tens of thousands of dollars to keep their soon-to-be ex-spouse’s hands off their tens of thousands of dollars, and all I can ever think is, “What a waste.” To spend money fighting about money is a drain on time and resources. It’s always nice to see the couples who have it figured out, can put their negative feelings aside, and treat each other with fairness. It’s also nice to see couples who understand that children’s time with each parent is vital to the child’s health and well-being (when each parent is willing and able to do so). When the parents can go in being supportive of each other’s parental roles, agree to be in good communication with each other, and not go after custody for the sake of inflicting pain and reaping child support benefits, everyone is much happier, especially the children; the kids get adequate time with each parent, and the parents tend to have less conflict, which also positively impacts the child.

I am reminded daily of how tremendously wonderful and devastating love can be. My job scares me, to be honest. I see people’s marriages falling apart on the regular–how could I ever expect to want to be married again knowing what I know? Oddly though, love is also very powerful, and I’ve recently begun to think, “Yeah, I could do that again.” I’m in no rush, and am happy to let my relationship grow in its own time. And perhaps the brighter side of working in divorce is the constant daily reminder of how fragile love can be. I’m inspired by people every day who tell me they simply stopped taking the time to appreciate each other, and over the years, they lost the connection. In those moments, I’m reminded to keep doing the little things in my relationship to communicate those sentiments. In time, they’ll hopefully be habit.

Divorce is a scary thing. I wish no one ever had to come to our website. But I’m thankful for the chance to help make this part of life a lot easier for a lot of families living in the United States. While there is certainly no cure for divorce, there are definitely things people can actively do to try to keep divorce from impacting them. And if divorce is ultimately the right choice for a family, I’m happy I can help them through it in a peaceful, supportive way so that they too, can begin again.

Animals, Home

The Unexpected

When I was 22, we lost our family dog. I cried for two weeks. I remember wondering if the hurt would ever stop. I had forgotten what the pain of losing a pet feels like.

Until last week.

Our sweet kitty, Chloe, who I’ve had for almost my entire adult life, passed away very suddenly on Wednesday evening. She wasn’t sick, had very few health problems to speak of, and was as spry as any young cat you’ve ever seen. People were always shocked to hear she was 16! She had been losing weight for a while–just a sign of aging. And she had begun peeing in the house a bit. So late in the winter, I moved her out to the garage. I didn’t think a 16 year old cat had much likelihood of getting adopted, and I had weathered this many years with her; surely I could last a few more. Plus, when it came down to it, I really didn’t like the idea of passing the buck now that things had gotten a bit harder. I signed up for the whole deal with Chloe; from kitten to old granny cat. I couldn’t give up now.

The home we made for Chloe in the garage was nice. She had a covered house, a heated bed, two litter boxes, lots of food and water, and I kept a space heater out there during the coldest part of the winter. Everything was placed on top of a large area rug so it was always soft and dry. We saw her many times a day, let her come in from time to time, and when it was nice, she still got to play outside. I had noticed she wasn’t grooming herself as well anymore, and I had begun clipping mats from her fur weekly. I knew she was aging. But I really thought we had years left with her.

I will spare the details, but when I came home on Wednesday night after dinner with a friend and a quick wine-run to the store, I found Chloe dead on the floor of the garage. It was traumatizing. I believe she had a seizure. I also believe it happened within hours of me getting there. My neighbors kept her body for me overnight, and I took her the next day to get cremated. At first, I thought I wanted to bury her. But I couldn’t stand the thought of moving someday and leaving her behind. The whole day was just unreal. I held her body for a long time before letting her go. I cried over that box of ashes. Thursday ranks as one of my most painful days of my entire life. One of my very best friends, Michelle supported me through it. I will never forget that.

And so the following few days were just raw. So many tears. So many memories. So many feelings. Lots of lovely messages, bottles of wine, and flowers delivered. You wouldn’t think a cat could invoke such an avalanche of love and care, but she sure did and I appreciate it all so much.

On Saturday, I woke up feeling awful. But I worked out and met a friend for brunch which brightened my spirits. And in the spirit of entertaining the hamster idea Brynn’s had for a while, I went to PetCo after my brunch. I thought maybe a hamster would cushion the blow of telling Brynn her beloved kitty had passed. I browsed the hamsters and then realized they had a few cats up for adoption, and my aching heart just had to see them.

Best mistake ever.

I saw this cat and my heart just about burst:

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I texted a few friends, “OMG, I am thisclose to taking this cat home with me.”

Some told me to do it.

Some told me I was f***** crazy.

I went home. And I thought about her. A lot.

Brynn came home a while later and I broke the news. I made her a care package with a kitty mug, a gray furry blanket to snuggle when she felt lonely for Chloe (which she has spent the last three nights completely enveloped in), a candle, and some photos. We made a little Chloe shrine on a small table in our hallway. She was solemn…she only cried a little. But she asked a lot of questions and wanted to talk about it quite a bit as the night progressed. She asked me about The Land of the Remembered (from “The Book of Life”)…she was precious.

We spent the evening together at sushi and went for ice cream after. And my thoughts drifted back to that black cat. I woke up Sunday morning. And I thought about her again. Brynn said to me that morning, “Aw house feels so weiuhd without Chloe. I miss the meows.” We both agreed that our home just didn’t feel right at all. I had always said Chloe would be my first and last cat. But I had no idea just how empty and sad the house was going to feel without her. That emptiness really blindsided me. I didn’t expect it at all.

We went about our day cleaning up the house and running errands. And we had a serious conversation about our options; hamsters, cats, dogs, timing, responsibilities, etc. I was still thinking so much about the beautiful black cat I had seen the day before.

Brynn and I ran around town looking at hamsters for a while. And finally I took her to see the black kitty on Sunday afternoon. I mostly just wanted to see how they’d be together. You know. Just in case…

And it was adorable.

We put the kitty on hold and ran to Winco for some groceries. I really needed to think. As we were walking into the store, Brynn’s legs wrapped around my waist and my arm supporting the weight of her still-tiny 32 pound body, I asked her, “How sure are you that you want this kitty and can help me take care of it?” In the parking lot, she exclaimed, “ONE HUNDWED PUHCENT!” And threw her arms around my neck and squeezed me–hard. And that was that.

By 6:30, I had signed the adoption papers from the Idaho Humane Society and was walking out of the store with our new, unexpectedly adopted 9-year-old kitty, Kabara. Yep. A senior cat. Named Kabara.

And this is where it gets really, really, really, super cool…

My friend, Autumn asked me if I had looked up the name, which I had told her I loved and wouldn’t be changing. I hadn’t looked it up yet, and in all honesty, it hadn’t occurred to me to do so. She texted me and said, “You’re gonna love it more after you read this”:

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Kabara is truly one of the sweetest kitties I’ve ever been around and we are crossing our fingers and toes that this new little creature has found her forever home with us.

Say hello to Kabara…

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I’ve had a lot of first days, but this one was the best.

On the first day of my last job, I walked into a situation that felt…off. Like really off. Things were revealed to me about my position that I had no idea about before accepting the job. Even the job title itself changed my first day in. I was thrown into an office in what felt very much like a “sink or swim” situation. (Actually, it was like being thrown into a tank filled with eels and sharks and being expected to live. With a ball and chain tied to my ankle, lol.) I wasn’t given the tools or resources I needed to succeed. I wasn’t supported. There was no communication. It was awful and I hated it and I knew I was in the wrong industry.

Fast forward a little over a year…

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Today was my first day at Wevorce and it was unlike any other first day I’ve ever had. It was the absolute best ever. The team all knew I was coming. No, “Oh, we hired someone new?” It was nice to know there had been some communication prior to my arrival. I got settled into my desk (which will change very soon so I’m not getting too comfy) and was given a new personal laptop. My phone is on the way. The reasoning behind the phone and the laptop? “We want to set you up for success.” I was blown away. I’ve always been expected to use my own personal phone and computer for company related work.

Which is total bullshit.

We had a team meeting where everyone told me who they were, what they did, and a little about their backgrounds. I was informed that partaking in the keg-orator in the break-room was ok if not preferable, lol. After that was another meeting, with fewer people, where we went over job functions, expectations, culture, and I had a chance to ask some questions. They outlined the next 90 days for me and then broke those out into chunks of time with goals and check-ins. Then the CEO, the business development guy, and I walked to the Linen District for lunch at A’Tavola. There we went through a 68 page presentation so I could get familiar with the process and the software that allows Wevorce to serve its clients.

Eye candy at A'Tavola ~ I love this magical spot
Eye candy at A’Tavola ~ I love this magical spot

It was organized and comprehensive and exciting and completely unlike any other first day I’ve ever had. The amount of time invested in me today felt amazing. I mean, we all walk into companies with the expectation that our contribution should directly impact the company’s growth and success. But that’s really hard to do when the company isn’t investing the necessary time, tools, or resources into you. It’s difficult to give when you feel like you’re getting nothing in return.

My day flew by and I can’t wait to go back tomorrow to learn more, continue to find my place and get comfortable, and continue on this path of making the life I’ve envisioned for myself and my daughter. And I’m excited to get back out there in my networking world to tell people, “This amazing resource is at your finger-tips should you ever need it and I CAN HELP YOU!”

I’m excited. I’m hopeful. I’m grateful. So very grateful.

The gate to my office. And to my future. Hahaha.
The gate to my office. And to my future. Hahaha.

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Silver Lined Paths

Silver linings are kind of my jam. In the midst of a crisis, I (proudly) have the uncanny ability to find the good in the bad. I annoy myself with this Pollyanna quality but at the same time, I’m glad it’s there (along with my horrifically inappropriate sense of humor). I also find myself with a deep need to connect with others who are either currently experiencing the same sort of crisis or who’ve experienced it and lived through it. It’s comforting to know I’m not alone and it’s uplifting to know that the crisis is survivable.

I went through a miscarriage before I had Brynn. Up until that time, it was the worst thing that had ever happened to me. I cried constantly. I felt angry and cheated when I saw my friends around me having babies. Even pregnant women at the grocery store–they were doing it to me on purpose. I coped by creating a couple of online groups for women experiencing the same thing. We leaned on each other, cried with each other, shared our fears with each other, and rejoiced in the births of our babies with each other. Five years later, I still communicate with many of the women I met through those forums. I know those groups were profound in the healing process for many of us and it helped me make sense of that devastating time. It gave me purpose when I had none.

After Brynn was born, motherhood was so much more difficult than I anticipated. I couldn’t believe that with all my research and preparation I had put into having my baby, I had overlooked the “what happens next” aspect. I felt like a train-wreck for the first five or six months postpartum. But it drove me to want to connect and help other women who felt the same way. So I trained to be a postpartum doula and I got certified as a lactation educator. Again, I needed purpose. I needed to somehow find a positive in a space that felt unexpectedly negative. I wanted to serve.

But by far, the most difficult thing I have ever experienced was my divorce. I spent a good few months crying, drinking wine, listening to Ray LaMontagne, and wondering what the hell I was going to do with myself next. I knew I needed change but felt really overwhelmed with the “what” and the “how”. So I decided to pick three things:

    • mind
    • body
    • soul

(Hey, I didn’t say I decided to pick three small things, lol).

Mind: Read more. So I started a book club. I’ve read more in the past year and a half than I have in the past 10 years combined.

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Body: I lost 19 pounds in a month as my divorce unfolded. I’m 5’3″ and was down from 126 pounds to 107 pounds. arm_crop

I was weak and emaciated and basically surviving on wine and coffee. That picture to the right haunts me…my arm is like a bone. I knew I was headed down a very unhealthy path, so I started doing a lot of yoga, got back into working out, started cooking clean, healthy, beautiful food, and then eventually found dancing. I did hip-hop, a little lindy-hop and west coast swing, but really got excited about salsa and bachata and still do both of those as much as possible. I’ve never felt stronger or more comfortable with myself.

Soul: I re-claimed my living space; I decorated the front room with pink!

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I gutted the master closet and made it mine. And I park in the middle of the two-car garage now. I also made new friends through work and dancing and those connections were restorative, exciting, and inspiring. My relationships with those around me have never been stronger or more fulfilling.

All the little things I couldn’t really do (or didn’t do) when I was married, I was now doing. And I found myself “counseling” many friends walking the heart-wrenching path of divorce as well. As I made my way out of the blackest time of my life, I was helping others see a light and it felt so good to find a silver lining in the biggest shit-storm I had ever faced.

So it makes total sense that the need to serve and support is now transitioning me onto a new career path. In a couple of weeks, I will settle into a new full-time role with Wevorce as their Family Resource Specialist! I’ll also help manage their social media. When this position came to me, I poured my heart into an email telling them all the reasons I knew I could do this job; why I should do this job. They wrote me back the next day, I interviewed twice in a week, and today they informed me that the job is officially mine! I am OVER THE MOON to be doing something that, while yes, will be difficult and probably a little depressing at times, will also leave a lasting positive impact on so many families and hopefully ease the burden and stress of divorce. If I had known Wevorce was an option for me at the time of my divorce, it might have saved a lot of time, money, and heartache.

I hope this new job can be the biggest silver lining of all to what was, without a doubt, the most difficult life-change I have ever faced. Because if I can take a fraction of what I’ve learned from that and give it to someone else to make their life easier, it comes back to me to remind me that my experience has continual and consistent meaning and value, and that is the biggest pay-off ever.

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Fighting Back With Love

Greg Rhoades Photography
Greg Rhoades Photography

The past week, even though it’s only Wednesday, has left me feeling sad and helpless.

The shootings in Orlando–there were actually two shootings, but the one on Saturday overshadowed the one on Friday so no one really heard about it. Then this morning, hearing about the tragedy at Disneyland. And it doesn’t seem like anyone is talking about what happened in Chicago, but it happened and it matters.

I read these stories and see people posting updates on their social media sites; sharing videos, posting their own personal thoughts, which are often quite angry and hateful, and I end up shutting off my phone because I’m fighting back tears and a massive headache.

I laid in bed this morning and found myself flip-flopping between two very opposing tensions; so much gratitude for all the things I have and so much sorrow for all the things it seems so many out there are losing. My gratitude always seems to be tinged with guilt. People are being massacred and here I am, sitting on my couch watching re-runs of Frasier with hot, fresh coffee, paying bills, getting my calendar together, talking to my sister on the phone, and texting with friends. I’m one of those people whose world keeps on spinning while so many others’ worlds have stopped.

I feel guilty, I feel helpless, and I don’t know what to do.

In my 20s, I used to compartmentalize. I’d see tragic things happen and think, “It’s not happening to me,” and block it out. But in my 30s, I can’t do that anymore. I see tragic things happen now and think, “It could happen to me at any moment.” It scares me. It makes me cry. It makes me wonder what kind of world I’ve brought my child into…and even scarier, what kind of a world I may leave her in.

But something interesting always happens when things like this occur. I begin taking stock of the abundance of blessings and joy in my life. I run through them like a check-list over and over:

  • Healthy, smart, beautiful baby girl
  • Wonderful, supportive, loving family
  • Pretty, cozy home
  • Best friends in the universe
  • Boise is my city–probably one of the safest cities in the world
  • Hobbies that make me happy
  • My health

All these thoughts, all these feelings, all these tragedies have done one very positive thing for me. It’s now become an almost un-knowing, unconscious daily practice to run through that list of blessings and joy. It’s become my silver lining when anything bad happens in the world.

I don’t want to let these tragedies do what they initially do to me, which is make me un-trusting and fearful of the world around me. I want to let them do the opposite; to help me understand others’ circumstances more and to not live in fear. Living in fear is no way to live at all.

Stephen Colbert put it well when he said, “Love is a verb. And to love is to do something.” That is one commitment I know I can make and put into daily practice. I can teach my daughter to do it too. When I think to myself, “I don’t know what to do,” I will remind myself, “Yes, you do–LOVE.” If everyone put this thought into practice, the world would feel a dramatic impact. And while that is certainly a lofty goal, it has to start somewhere. In my own home seems like a pretty good place.

Brynn, Home

Happy Spaces

My goal of writing more this year is leaving a lot to be desired, lol. But if I’m not inspired to write, my writing falls flat and I tend to ramble even more than usual. So I have to wait for it to hit me. That’s when it pours and flows and feels the best anyway.

Brynn and I have birthdays approaching! She’s been asking me when hers is for the past 11 months. The concept of time is so hard at this age! We measure by counting or by how many movies which is hilarious. We’re big movie watchers in our house. Or we count by her trying to keep track of the days. “So not today…and not tomowwow…and not the next day, but the next day?” Haha. Yes, sweet little bug. Or if I tell her, “We have to leave in 10 minutes,” she says, “So that means I have to count to 60 ten times, wight?” She usually forgets where she is after about five seconds of counting, but it sure is cute to hear her try!

For my birthday this year, I just want to get out of town, drink some wine, and kind of forget that I’m getting older and that this year has been a bit of a rough one already. Not like bad rough, just challenging rough. Brynn, on the other hand, wants to celebrate with cake and ice cream and sprinklers and dragons and pinatas. She is obsessed with pinatas. Now if I can find a dragon pinata, that’ll be the icing on her made-from-scratch buttercream frosted cake.

Oh, I also want to salsa dance. For my birthday, I would very much like to salsa dance.

The relationship I have with Brynn continues to grow and evolve in wonderful, positive ways. Since her dad moved out of state at the beginning of the year, we’ve spent almost every single day and night together for the past five months. I know a lot of people give parents a hard time for trying to be their kids’ best friend, but that kid is my best friend, and I hope she thinks I’m hers (in addition to her mother). We do everything together! I drive her back and forth from school, pack every lunch, watch every ballet lesson (save for the occasional Saturday where I have to work or something). She comes with me to meetings, events, parties…everywhere. The best part is being able to tuck her in almost every single night. I love her in our home with me every day. Well, almost every day. I’ve been doing the single parenting gig for three years, but since January, I’ve been going at it solo, and let me tell you–full time single parenting it is not for the faint of heart! I’ve had to call in for back-up a couple of times, and thankfully, my backups never fail me. Last week, it had pretty much turned into a matter of survival. I wasn’t sure who was going to kill each other first, and thankfully, our wonderful friend, Eileen came to the rescue and took Brynn for me for two days so I could gather myself from the puddle of tears I was melting into and get some things accomplished in my world. Single parenting is simultaneously the most frustrating, challenging, and wonderful, satisfying job in the world. At least to me. There is no one else I’d rather devote my time to, but there are days I’m not sure either of us will live to see tomorrow. And that is when, for both our sakes, I know I need to step back, admit defeat, and ask for help. I hate doing it. I really do. I hate burdening other people with my responsibilities. Fortunately, I have a very loving and understanding village.

Since we spend so much time at home, Brynn and I have tackled a lot of projects. We did the plate wall that I LOVE…

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We turned the spare room into a playroom/workout room (seriously, when do single parents ever get to a gym?! Plus, the daycare cost is just as much as the membership). We hung cute little butterfly hooks outside her door so now there are no excuses about hanging up bags and coats. We donated some old toys, I rearranged my bedroom so we can sleep under the open window, and we dusted off the front step and back patio to make room for flowers which will go in this weekend! We even put new cushions on the patio furniture and it made a world of difference out there. I can’t believe what a happier space it is now!

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This summer is already starting to fill up–flower planting this weekend, her first ballet recital two weeks after that, I promised a trip to the planetarium which means I also need to take her to a Star Party. There’s her birthday in June, not to mention Father’s Day weekend. I have a big wedding weekend to attend over the 4th of July, then we have to get up to the cabin at Warm Lake at least once if not twice. Factor in more birthdays, Alive After Fives, sushi dates, Saturday Market, and there’s our summer! Never a dull moment with these two Bs in a pod.

www.thealbumcafe.com
http://www.thealbumcafe.com

Brynn

I forgot the damn Valentines.

I try to keep Brynn and myself so organized with our super crazy schedule. Between me working in essentially three different offices, her school being almost 10 miles away from home, (seriously, on Thursdays alone between home, school, work, school, and back home, I drive 137 miles round trip; it’s insane), trying to make all my meetings (usually with her in tow), her ballet class, trips to the store, and trying to squeeze in things like book club, film club, and seeing our family, it’s a LOT to handle! And I usually handle it really well.

Except for this morning.

I completely dropped the ball. Or should I say, the heart-shaped ball? Or maybe the chocolate ball? Whatever. I #momfailed this morning, big time.

Brynn and I walked to class, got her lunch put away and coat hung up. I kissed her goodbye and was about to walk out the door when I heard her teacher say, “Are you ready for the Valentine’s party, Brynn? Where are your Valentines?”

Picture me kind of like this…

Completely clueless, I asked, “She was supposed to have Valentines?” Her teacher pointed to a little pink paper with the information about the Valentines party hung up on the door and said they sent one home. I swear to Lucifer, I never saw the little pink paper! I really didn’t! But I know I’m going to go home tonight and it’s going to be laying in the “don’t forget to go through” pile. Dammit.

So. At 8:15 this morning, I ran to the store, picked up 24 puppy and kitty Valentines with stickers. I tore, stickered, and stuffed them at every stop light, and finished in the school lobby so my kid wouldn’t be the loser in class with no Valentines to give her classmates. I felt like the biggest idiot ever sitting in the lobby in front of the receptionist stuffing my kid’s Valentines because it was so obvious who dropped the ball.

ME.

At this point, I really can’t blame my four-year-old for things like this. I’m at least three years away from that, right? I figure about seven years old is when you get to start saying things like, “Why didn’t you go through the papers in your backpack?” and, “Honey, did you remember to put the project due-date on your Google calendar?”

Right now, we’re still working on things like, “Did you remember to wipe?”  So remembering to read the papers the school sends home and shop for Valentines cards clearly falls into parent-territory. Fortunately, I got them done, gave them to her to take into her class (to which I heard several little girls oooh’ing and ahhh’ing over the puppies and kittens), and was only a little late to work. And most importanly, my kid isn’t going to be the chump who forgot her Valentines. So I guess at the end of all this, I can say I ended up with a #momwin.

Brynn, Home

Day One of our New Life

When I got divorced, I didn’t breathe a word of it on social media. I mean, I’d talk about it in private groups, but it was never something I spoke about to the people in my friends list. I’ve literally never typed the words “divorced” or “single mom” in a status update. Because in my head, mentioning I was getting a divorce or that I was divorced was code for, “I’m a massive failure” or even worse, it was an admission that I was wrong about the one thing I had always felt so sure of.

Two and a half years later, I no longer feel that way. I’m completely comfortable with the path my life has taken. Did I think this would happen? No. But did it? Yes. And like all other things you don’t really plan to have happen in your life, you just deal with it. I was pretty quick to go back to work to provide for Brynn and have changed jobs a lot in an effort to increase my income. It hasn’t been easy, but it’s been rewarding. I like knowing I didn’t waste any time when it came to doing what needed to be done. I’m proud of myself for never wallowing too long in my “whys” and the “life isn’t fairs” (although don’t me wrong–there was definitely some wallowing).

The thing that was probably the hardest for me was feeling like a part-time mom. I hated that I only got to be with Brynn 50% of the time. I felt like a mom-fraud. It was physically painful to be away from her when she’d go to her dad’s house. By day three, sometimes even two, my body would be aching and I would cry if I thought about her for too long. I’d literally dance and bounce in my seat as I sped to pick her up on Fridays after work. I couldn’t wait to get my hands on her. To touch her hair. Kiss her cheeks. Breathe her in. Brynn’s cheeks have always been my most favorite spot to plant my lips and take a big deep inhale. Her soft velvety skin coupled with the smooshiness, then topped off by her sweet baby smell (that she still has at four and a half) is the fastest way to transport me to a whole different realm of calm and centered. Anyone who has spent significant time with us has most definitely seen my almost obsessive kisses of Brynn’s cheeks. Once I get going, it’s hard to stop.

Over time, our days apart became easier. I got involved with some professional groups. I started a book club. I began dancing. I dated. Suddenly, those three to four nights we spent apart every week were filled to the brim!  It got to the point where even three to four “free” nights a week still didn’t seem like quite enough for all the things I had going on. I had never been busier and was extremely happy to have found such a good balance of work and fun, and all the while, still being a good mom to Brynn and making the absolute most out of our time together.

But like everything, things change. On Saturday, Brynn’s dad moved out-of-state to take a new job opportunity. Suddenly, I am Brynn’s sole parent 100% of the time. He’ll visit from time to time, but those few days a month aside, it’s now just Brynn and me. He could move back at some point, but nothing is for certain.

For about the past two weeks leading up to this, I have really been struggling. I’ve felt such a huge array of emotions; happy, depressed, excited, scared, anxious, doubtful, and a little bit selfish…even resentful…and that has made me feel guilty.

Since the divorce, despite whatever obstacles were in the way, I was able to find a happy routine. I got all my Brynn-time in from Friday through Monday (we have sure loved all of our weekends together), then I had Tuesday through Thursday to play, date, dance, network, or do whatever else it was I wanted to do. Now, I have no idea how I’m going to dance. I don’t know how Brynn will be if I take her with me to book club. And it’s going to be hard to attend any kind of Chamber or BYP functions. Basically, anything that isn’t work-related or being a mom-related is going to be hard to do.

I’m trying so hard to shift my perspective. I’ve always been pretty good at that; re-framing things to help myself see them differently and therefore accept them more easily. I’m trying to think of how much closer we may become. I’m trying to think of all the things I’ll be able to do with her now that she’s going to be with me 100% of the time, like ballet classes, swimming lessons, and completely removing the words “Happy Meal” from her vocabulary (yeah, I’m that mom–don’t hate). I’m trying to think of how much more involved I can be in her schooling now. And more than anything, I’m trying to remember that while motherhood certainly isn’t for everyone, there are literally millions of women on this planet who’d give anything and everything to have a daughter like mine, and the indescribable honor of being her mother seven full days a week.

That right there is what’s going to get me through this. Well…that, wine, awesome parents, amazing siblings, and the most fantastic friends that have ever existed in the history of the universe. Ever.

I know I can do this. But I’m nervous. There are going to be a couple of days a week that are just damn hard. We’ll leave the house at 7am and won’t be back until 7pm. But Brynn has always been flexible and resilient. And I have always been strong. We had a little candlelight ceremony where we talked about the changes taking place in our lives and we made each other some promises. Then I let Brynn blow out the candle. On our way home tonight, I reminded her of our promises and we ended up having a fabulous night together.

So Day 1 of this new life is down. And it really wasn’t so bad. In fact, it was kind of fun.

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“It’s Friday!”

Brynn

Ballerina Girl and the Horror That Was Yoga

It’s like one day it hit me that my kid is four and is in no formal lessons of any kind at all; no music, no dancing, no sports. Although if you asked her, Brynn would tell you she’s an expert in the following fields:

  • coloring
  • dancing
  • pounding on the piano
  • dinosaurs
  • legos
  • sushi
  • phases of the moon
  • treats and sweets of all kinds
  • shaking her booty
  • terrorizing the cat
  • making up jokes that make absolutely no sense whatsoever

So clearly, Brynn’s got a lot going for her. Still though, I started feeling a huge responsibility to get her into something. Anything. So just for fun, we tried a yoga class. And here is the beauty of social media. While what I showed you was a seemingly perfect little tush up in the air in what is obviously a picturesque downward dog…

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What you missed was the shit-storm of attitude and disgust thrown at me during the other 59 minutes and 30 seconds of the class…

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I was super annoyed too because my hair was totally cute that day and I wanted a cute picture of my cute kid and my cute hair but she ruined it. Gah! And don’t even get me started on her defiance at lunch when she simply couldn’t even handle the smell of the black beans I ordered her because they “smelled like cheese”.

For God’s sake.

Obviously, yoga was a no-go. But at least I got a cute picture!

Next up, ballet. Not gonna lie, I was pretty nervous about it, lol. I was anticipating the same basic attitude at ballet that she displayed at yoga. Much to my surprise though, she LOVED it! And oh my goodness, was she cuuuuuute! I was dying. I died. Then I died again. She bounded out of class exclaiming, “I loved it!”

She is now enrolled 30 minutes a week in her first formal ballet class, and honestly, I think I’m a little more excited than she is. Don’t be surprised if I show up next week wearing a tutu. Only in support, of course.

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