The Dead Thing

I started a new job about 3 months ago. It’s a good job but there have been  things I’ve had to get used to. For instance  I haven’t had a job that requires I dress professionally in…maybe ever (at the most it’s been business causal). My employers dress in suits on a daily basis setting the bar high. Thankfully I’ve had friends with great taste pass things down to me over the years so I didn’t have to go out and buy a new wardrobe (Yay for free clothing! and friends!). I’ve also never worked in an office of all men before; three serious men with little time for chit chat, which is understandable given the nature of their business. My background consists of mostly non-profit and human service experience, meaning I’ve had the pleasure of working with a diverse group of people at any given time with conversation a plenty! Suffice it to say, my experience here has been a lonely one until…

Enter “The Smell”. It started faintly enough. My super mom sense of smell picked up on it first. “Do you smell that?” I asked the least serious of the three. He replies, ” I thought I smelled something, but I must have gotten used to it.”

Day two: The smell is still present. It’s gone from “Did I really smell something?” to “Yup, there is definitely a stinky source and we need to find it pronto.” So I addressed the only other female in the office, Miss Intern, who is here very part time (not enough for organic female bonding to occur). Together we ruled out the garbage as the culprit. Maybe something in the walls?

Day three: It’s getting serious. One of the bosses has also detected the small, and you know it has to be bad if a man with allergies can smell it. After speculations of what may have died and where, there is some joking about who done it. Yes, I did say joking! And kidding! The first sign of life.

My boss instructs me to call Critter Control.

Day four: Critter Control can’t find the source, but it’s confirmed…it a dead something, and we have mice. Not inside the building, just under it. There is more discussion around the copier (we don’t have a water cooler). More laughs and pleasantries shared.

Several days later there is still no solution and the stink lingers, but that stink has been able to do something I didn’t think was possible. It created a pseudo bonding experience. It reassured me that humor does exist in my office. It allowed for free flowing conversation (for a few days at least). It gave me hope that I may again laugh while I work one day. My dear Dead Thing, you did not die in vain!

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Always A Silver Lining

I’ve written about the divorces in my life and how they’ve affected me. I’ve also written about a lot of the good that’s come out of my own divorce as it has been the driving force behind the journey of self discovery and acceptance I’ve been on since. (You can find all these posts in my archives if you’re interested.) What I haven’t written a whole lot on is the GREAT that came out of my parent’s divorce which is where my mind is today…thankful for the silver linings

If you look hard enough you can find the good that comes out of any bad situation. It may not be the glaring silver lining you read about in books or see in movies. It may be as little as the shift in your perspective or the empathy you now have for others that comes solely from having “been there”. It’s these little linings that are many times overlooked and some times the most important. I often hear how detrimental divorce is to children and there is truth to that, but having been a child of divorce there are several things I consider to be blessings and wouldn’t change if I had the choice. It’s these “blessings” that kept me going through my own divorce. They afforded me the security that everything was going to be okay, and for that I am grateful! Here are some of my silver linings.

1. My parent’s divorce taught me what NOT to do in my own divorce. I know I’ve said it before, but it was a priceless lesson and I’m glad I learned it the first time around because how many of you know it can take many repetitions of a lesson for it to finally sink in? Please know that I don’t blame my parents for the state of their divorce. I understand that divorce is an ugly monster just in it’s natural form so to do it any differently takes vulnerability, and opens you up to criticism from those that love you and want to protect you. Either way there is nothing easy about it, but in the end I know I made the right choices for mine.

2. My parents get along better now than they ever did. This may be hugely due to the fact they there’s not much communication between them at all anymore, but there was a time when they had to communicate. I’m proud of them for learning to be civil to one another. In fact, there were several times they went above and beyond civility. Besides the expected events like graduation, weddings and showers, there were times when my parents voluntarily shared the same space.

  • At a friends house as we were getting ready for a high school dance. (I have a picture with me sandwiched between my mom and my “step”-mom.)
  • At my Pop Pop’s viewing. My mom was there to offer support no matter that the loss was on my dad’s side. My family (including my dad) welcomed her presence there and she was a huge help with her grandchildren.
  • At my Aunt’s house on my dad’s side for Thanksgiving. My dad’s family invited my mom. Again she was welcome and I know it had to take courage for her to voluntarily go and be surrounded by those that supported my dad. But she did and I believe it’s because she knew they all loved her kids and how can you not appreciate that?

These examples, along with many others, have paved the way for me in my dealings with my Ex. Just the other evening B and I went to his house by invitation of his girlfriend to have cake and ice cream in celebration of my son’s birthday. Weird, right? And while it didn’t feel completely natural, it wasn’t at all bad. We actually laughed and shared stories. It was…nice.

3. I’ve witnessed my parents’ happiness in the healthy relationships they moved into. So many times people remarry only to find exactly what they had in the first marriage. There are a plethora of reasons this may happen, but statistics are definitely against a 2nd marriage surviving. BOTH my parents married people who were terrific matches for them and who have been great step-parents to me and my brothers. After seeing a dysfunctional relationship for a good portion of my life, it’s a relief to know that not every relationship has to be that way. Their second marriages have given me hope that there is a second chance to happiness in marriage.

These are just a few of the silver linings I’ve found. I hope to share more of them with you in the near future. In the meantime, if you’ve found your own silver linings and you’d like to share them please do so in the comments. I’d love to hear from you.

A Moment of Self Reflection

The other morning the boys had a 2 hour delay for a “snow storm” we had the night before here in NC. Seriously! We had less than 2 inches of snow and it was gone in the morning, but who’s counting? They were super excited, as is to be expected with the possibility of snow and no school. I even let them stay up later than usual because I knew they could sleep in and I’m an awesome mom (wink). I was equally excited about not having to wake up at 6 am. So can someone please explain to me why my tween son was mad that I woke him up at 8 am? And before you say because he wanted to sleep in later…ERRR! No! It was because he didn’t wake up early enough. And not only was he mad, but he was extremely grumpy, hardly said two words and growled at us! GROWLED! (You know when people try to console you by saying you’re not alone? Well I really think I am the only mom in the world with this problem.)

As I write about it now I can see the humor, but my immediate response was to get mad back at him. But WHY? This is the question I asked later when I realized how mad I actually was about his grumpiness and couldn’t give myself an acceptable answer. Hence the reflection part of this post.

It occurred to me that yes, I have done a ton of work to lessen the severity of my weaknesses and shortcomings, but it’s been focused on the relational issues specific to a significant other. There is still so much work to do with the other important relationships in my life, namely with my sons. Lest you think  this is the first time this realization is dawning on me, I doubt there is a day that goes by without me feeling inadequate as a mother in one form or another. If you’ve been following me for a while you may recall that one of my greatest fears throughout my separation and divorce was the fear of emotionally screwing up my children. While I don’t think I will completely ruin their lives anymore, I still want to have the healthiest possible relationship with them. Getting mad at someone for his grumpiness is not a healthy response. It wasn’t in marriage and it isn’t in ANY relationship.

Here what I deduced:

1. I got mad because I took his grumpiness as a personal statement that I am “not good enough”. Crazy that I would get that from a 12 year old growl, but I did. It seems to be a recurring theme in the story of my insecurity.

2. There is a stink of co-dependency in this story. It’s slight, but it is there. If my kids are happy, I am happy. If they’re miserable, I’m miserable. The odds are against me. There are 3 of them and the chance that all of them will be happy at the same time are equivalent to me finding a wad of cash in my mailbox. So why am I allowing their demeanor to determine my mood?

3. We should all be allowed to express ourselves when we are feeling emotional. He was obviously having a bad morning for whatever reason. I mean he is pubescent after all. He should have the freedom to be upset without someone else taking it personally and adding to the crumminess of the situation.

So there you have it! I am officially the best mom on the planet now, right? Ha! I wish it were that easy. If I could fix every problem by analyzing it, I would write a book and make millions. Pshh! I know it’s not that easy. Instead I’ll just work at being more aware of my reactions. I will still get mad when they pretend they can’t hear me tell them to clean their room, take a shower, brush their teeth. I will still yell loudly when they are fighting with one another in another room. I will still talk through my gritted teeth at my youngest 10 times a day for…pretty much everything. But if I stay aware and ask myself why I am reacting the way I am, sooner or later it will become easier to not react. Between that and asking my boys for forgiveness when I over do it, there is hope….for that best mom on the planet award!

Goodbye Twenty-Twelve!

I know I promised I wouldn’t go this long without writing again. That promise was made to myself as much as it was to anyone who reads my blog and I absolutely hate going back on my word. Writing regularly is not only an outlet for my creative energy, but I’m under the hopefully not disillusioned impression that the more I write the more improved my writing abilities get. With that said the strongest driving force behind my writing is my desire to potentially help others by sharing my experiences. I know for myself personally it was an encouragement when I was told that everything would work out and I was going to be okay. Hearing stories of others’ overcoming adversity instilled a deep hope that no matter what happened I was going to make it.

Here’s what’s kept me away: In the last several weeks I have spent any time I would normally spend on writing on frantically buying Christmas gifts for my boys (including Tall Blonde, or B – whichever you prefer) while trying to maintain a budget; attending an Ugly Sweater Christmas party that ended up being a baby-to-be Gender Reveal party (they’re having a boy!); Planning and celebrating a wonderful Christmas day with my family; packing the boys up for their dads and myself up for a fun packed weekend in NY with B’s family; spending a lot of time on the couch due to a ugly cold/flu thing I picked up along the way…TWICE! Oh, did I mention I also worked two jobs during all this (one of which is a new job)? While I am not trying to make excuses, I want to assure you that it is unlikely a series of events such as these will occur again anytime soon and therefore I should be able to keep up my regular writing schedule.

Here’s a sneak peek at what’s to come in 2013: More guest blogs, Ugly Duckling features and a monthly post from Tall Blonde himself! I hope you will follow along in the journey!

Put Your Spouse First, But Keep Your Girlfriends Close!

I am honored yet again to have a dear friend featured as a guest blogger. Today I welcome Erin, an amazing friend, mother of  four (2 of her own and two step-children), and wife to one of our courageous military personnel.  While these are all noteworthy hats she wears, they do not describe her nearly well enough. She is an intelligent, self motivated, no Bull Sh*t having, wise-in-her-young-age woman. And since she is so wise, I strongly suggest you soak in this bit of wisdom she wanted to share with us…

The beginning of a new relationship is nirvana. You are happy, always smiling, and always craving the presence of the other person. He overtakes your thoughts, feelings, and emotions. New love is so blissful and the desire to be with that other person is almost like needing air.

Sometimes your work suffers a bit while your head is in the clouds. You may gain some (or a lot)  “happy weight”, and many times your family and even girlfriends fall to the wayside. It’s totally understandable, we get it, all you want to do is spend every free minute with HIM. Sure, you still chat with your girls every now and again, but who has time when you’re busy talking to HIM til the wee hours in the morning if you’re not together?

Time moves forward an you finally marry Mr. Right, have a baby or two, and then what? You absolutely NEED TO GET AWAY from your chaotic home and be YOU! You need to be with your girlfriends. Your girls are the ones you can compare relationship notes with and share parenting ideas. Your girls are the ones who tell you that wanting a break from the husband and kids is normal and okay. They are the ones that make you feel like the last 10 pounds of the baby weight REALLY may take longer than one year to lose – if ever (but who cares because you look GORGEOUS, Darling).

Being with your own “kind” helps you feel like a real person again – an individual not just wife or mom. I’m ME –just like I was before the family. I love to laugh and talk smack with my girls. I love to talk about how hard it is to balance work and family and how I just cannot find the time to go to the gym without missing out on time with my kids after work. I love being able to talk about “am I a bad mom for doing this or not doing that?” I love to know that even though we are different women, we all go through the same things.

Having the actual time to get together can definitely become an issue, but once we are together, I cherish our time. Sometimes we all talk at once, or there are many conversations going on at the same time. Other times we take turns sharing our lives with each other. Whatever the case, these are the moments I wish I had more of. Getting the girls together is good for our souls. It keeps us bonded as friends and as women. It is a source of encouragement and support beyond compare. It is something that should NEVER be taken for granted, because let’s face it, finding real friends is harder to do as you get older.

I truly love the women in my life. I have learned to let some relationships go for certain reasons, but the ones I hang on to are because these women enrich my life- not just fill space. I don’t know what I’d do without them and hope that I’m as good of a friend to them as they are to me.

**Editors Note: I can attest the the fact that Erin is a great friend. Having had the opportunity to spend time with my girlfriends a bit more the last couple of months (to the great disappointment of my youngest son), I wonder how I go so long in between “Girls Nights”. I always walk away feeling a sense of affirmation that I don’t get anywhere else. There is just no replacement. Thank you, Erin, for reminding us of that.