Tag Archives: divorce

Talking to Kids About Real Things (Gonna Be a Long 4 Years)

UPDATE: THIS JUST IN: http://www.theverge.com/2017/1/28/14427086/federal-court-halts-trumps-immigration-ban

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We were watching “The Wide Window” in “A Series of Unfortunate Events” when my phone buzzed.

Do you have the kids now?

-Yep.

I’m probably going to Logan. 

Earlier in the evening I’d shared, on Facebook, a compiled lists of protests around the country due to (this time) the new president’s new executive order banning people from entering the U.S. from certain countries. While some of them were in flight.

Yeah, this is horrifying on so many levels.

I responded to my text, quietly: -I would but have very tired slightly sick kids. Thank you for going!! 

Also, I don’t take my kids to protests in the middle of bedtime. We’re chasing a very delicate equilibrium these days and I try to keep the status quo as much as possible. The new custody schedule helps a ton, and I think Friday evening karate does, too. Yes, I know we’re privileged, and privileged enough to try to maintain order and a schedule and routine. I know.

I wished her luck and returned to watching the show with the kids, the younger one snuggled against me.

Twenty minutes later, when the show had ended and I was reading to the kids (George, about a boy who understands she’s really a girl and has a hard time telling anyone but really wants to play Charlotte in the school performance of “Charlotte’s Web”–an excellent book, and so well done, and the kids totally get it and it’s not a big deal to them, and I love that this book exists and hate that it is so out of the norm), my phone buzzed again. Another local friend.

“Mom, stop texting,” my older son grumbled.

“I need to check it. I can explain why,” I said.

The second friend was texting to see if I’d join her at the protest in Boston tomorrow. I checked her text because I knew it would be protest-related and wanted to know if I should connect her with the first friend, so they could carpool to Logan if need be.

“So,” I started, “the Statue of Liberty has a poem on it by a woman named Emma Lazarus, saying, ‘Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.’

“This country became a refuge for so many people seeking shelter and peace and a better life.* The United States welcomes all. Or, did. But our new President has signed something called an ‘executive order,’ an official decree, stating that people from certain countries — all of them predominantly Muslim countries — cannot come to the United States anymore.

“Some of the people were on planes at the time that he signed it, so when they landed here they couldn’t go to to where they were going, and they couldn’t be put back on a plane to go back to where they came from. They were sent to detention centers to talk with immigration lawyers about what they could do.**”

“Wait, why couldn’t they just be put on planes to go back?”

“Great question. For some people, it’s not safe to return to where they came from. They came here seeking a safe place. For others, there’s no reason to return. Maybe they were just on a trip. In any case, who would pay for the flight? So they are sent to detention centers.

“So people are protesting this around the country tonight, at different airports, and they are also marching tomorrow to protest. So I was checking my texts to see if S—‘s mom is going to Logan tonight, like J—- is, to see if maybe they can carpool. But S—-‘s mom is going to the march tomorrow in Boston. Want me to read a few more pages?”

And then poor George had to deal with her teacher refusing to take her Charlotte audition seriously. Ugh.

And then the kids conked out the way very tired children do, especially when they’re fed and safe and warm and secure. Sorry to lay it on thick. It’s been a long week, the first week of a long four years. We’ll be stopping by the Boston protest tomorrow, all three of us.

*For real, we talked about Europeans invading the U.S. and taking the land away from Native Americans and killing most of them and forcing the rest to live in crappy “reservations” just a few days ago, so I skipped that part.

**Admittedly a little heavy for bedtime. But I’m not going to shield my children from their president’s actions for the next four years. I cannot. It’s impossible and stupid to try. Instead: Hey kids, here’s what your president is up to. We’re so, so sorry, and it hurts so many people. 

Yeah. Stuff Is Hard.

My old pal and running partner Sasha used to say that you can only do three things well. At the time, we both had small children and were training a lot for races. Her three things were running, writing, and parenting. Mine were….running, parenting, cooking, working, knitting….I might have been trying to do too many things, actually. I’m like that. It doesn’t mean I’m doing them well. It just means I “never have time” and I have too much going on.

I’ll be honest: I am having a hard time lately. Obviously, I cannot say too much here. But that is the truth.

A big part of it, I’m sure, is the damn election. As for probably every other woman out there, it’s triggering rage at the lifetime of sexism, minor assaults, etc. No need to belabor this point. At all.

And divorce. It’s hard. I’ll just leave it at that.

The cat I lost custody of* went missing for several days (one of which was cold, rainy, windy, stormy). Thankfully, she’s been found, and in other happy news, my landlord said I can get a cat, so the boys and I will start looking around for a kitty for our home. So that is very happy news.

Here’s what I’m doing:

  1. Parenting, trying to help my kids be happy and healthy and thriving during this big transition in their lives.
  2. Working (and I have an extra client right now, one I want to impress, of course, but it means the current couple of weeks are kind of a strain on me).
  3. Training for an ultramarathon (go ahead and say, “WTF are you thinking?”).
  4. Socializing and trying to recover myself and my interests (climbing, mountain biking, baking, etc.).
  5. Finishing unpacking and setting up this apartment (actually, screw that; I’m hopefully here only 10 more months and I don’t want to put much more money into this apartment or unpack anything else; we still need some rugs and some storage items, but I’m not doing much else).
  6. Figuring out what happens next regarding the divorce, where we’ll all live next year, future employment, and so on.

That is a lot. 

Honestly, fitness has fallen right out the window. I’m not going to the gym. I’m barely running. I should be doing multi-hour runs at this point. Instead, I’m trying to get sleep or get extra work-time in when I can.

And sometimes, like tonight, I just need to spend some time baking and vacuuming and then curled up on the couch watching old episodes of “House.”

So if, by Sasha’s rules, I had to pick three, it would be parenting, working, self-care/sleep. Some of that self-care involves time with friends; some of it involves baking; some of it involves time on Facebook, and I am not ashamed of that. Some days Facebook provides my only social interaction, since I work from home. Don’t judge.

Anyway. Lately things feel hard. Maybe I’m doing too much. The ultra training, much as I hate to say it, has to go. I just don’t have the time or energy for it right now, and it’s not where I should be putting my energy, and it’s becoming a stressor instead of something to look forward to. I hate to let go of it. But I need to take care of myself and conserve energy (physical and mental) right now.

So that’s where I’m at. Feel free to give me an unsolicited hug. Or ask how I am. Or tell me a joke.

*because when I found this apartment, it was “No pets allowed,” so C took the cat when we all moved in August. But now I can have a cat, YAY THANK GOD.

Five Nights/Six Days

My babies left tonight. I dropped them off on a chilly soccer field as it was growing dark. I hugged and kissed them goodbye on the way there, because I’m aware of what’s socially acceptable for these boys. And after I waved goodbye, the older one ran after me for a final hug.

We’ve had six days and five nights of bliss together. Normally our schedule is 2-2-3, meaning two nights with me, two with their father, three with me (including a weekend), then it switches: two nights with him, two with me, three with him (including a weekend).

It’s a lot of going back and forth. And it’s hard. And it’s hard to keep track, sometimes — “Whose night is it tonight, Mama?”

But this long stretch? It was gorgeous. Relaxed. The three of us were calm and happy. There were none of the usual transition challenges, no anger, no tough behavior, no fighting between the boys that didn’t also involve a lot of laughter. We all just settled in happily for our extra days together, and it’s been beautiful.

There were two days of school, of course (today was a holiday — Happy New Year!). And they got to choose what we had for dinner (“Sloppy joes!”, declared one, but the other wanted a burger, but since both involve ground beef and buns, everyone got what they asked for). They did their homework. We had hilarious drawing sessions. They made a new neighborhood friend and spent hours outside with him (and other kids). We ordered pizza in the next town and wandered around in the rain waiting for our dinner to be ready. We finally had our first movie night in this new apartment.

We bought pumpkins and made lunches together and went to the trampoline park with friends. We spent a few hours in the woods, hiking and climbing around and listening to a red-tailed hawk screaming in the distance. We lounged around together on the couch, all in a pile, laughing and sometimes reading. Some mornings I woke up to find both or just one in my bed, snuggled against me. Other mornings, I woke alone, finding they’d stayed in their own beds all night, warm and snug.

They’re gone now, at their father’s for the next two nights. Their room is dark and empty, and the apartment is quiet. I kept up on the dishes like a pro for the past many days, but now that the boys are gone I’ve already fallen into a kind of ennui and the sink is already piled up. I don’t care. I’ll have the place clean and tidy before they return.

For now, I just listen to the crickets outside, all of my apartment dark except for the kitchen, and feel so, so glad my boys and I had a long stretch of time together. We all needed it.

 

The Kids Are Here!

Today I picked up from camp two filthy children, one of whom had dirt on his eyelids. Due to the weather (I think), they didn’t go swimming as usual but instead had spent their day on a few different playgrounds.

They were tired and happy and so dirty.

Our home wasn’t exactly a paragon of cleanliness, either, I must confess. When they’re here, I focus on them (and meals, and packing for camp, and work, and laundry), and when they’re not here, I focus on work, and feeding myself, and trying to get some workouts in, and running some errands.

Also seeing apartments. I have about 6 weeks to find a new place (and that’s being very generous). I’ve checked all over all the places one would look for an apartment. I’ve reached out to several rental agents. I’ve posted to all my networks. I called the “very reassuring” realtor recommended by my neighbors, who — after hearing my details: 2 kids, 1 cat, X budget — clucked, “Oh, honey.”

The situation isn’t dire yet. We’ll be OK.

Anyway, today I had a (painfully, cursedly, brutally early) trail run, work, a quick noontime hour-long yoga class (I have the boys this weekend, meaning no real workouts all weekend, so I try to get them in when I can), more work, a phone interview for an extra freelance gig (got it!!), and a ton of apartment hunting.

I had promised to pick up the kids from camp a little early. So I had to choose between cleaning and getting groceries. Dragging two kids who just want to be home playing, at the home they haven’t been in for a few days, to the grocery store seemed unnecessary. So the cleaning could wait. I’d hit the store before I picked them up.

And lo and behold, of course they went right outside to play, which allowed me to tidy and clean and sweep and mop (a little). I made their beds with fresh sheets. I’d already put away their clean, folded laundry (normally that’s their job, but there were a lot of clothes to put away and it was their first day back in a few days, so I took care of it).

Often on Saturdays, when they’re here, we all work on cleaning together, but this was their first week of full-day camp, so I’m trying to keep it easy on them. We won’t spend the morning vacuuming and tidying and sweeping. They still had to empty their lunchboxes when they got home, of course (and they’ll empty the dishwasher this weekend, if timing works out).

And then I insisted on showers before dinner. I scrubbed the younger one (older one doesn’t need me). His knees never came clean. That’s all right.

Clean boys, clean beds, clean sleep. They’re home with me again, and when they’re not in their own world of imaginative play, they want to cuddle with me. I’m sure I’ll wake up to find both in my bed.

It’s how we start Saturdays, every other week. All together, snuggled. I love it.

 

On “Annie” and Gender-Neutral Bathrooms

I took the boys to see “Annie” tonight. I’d been tossing around the idea of taking them to the Big Apple Circus, which is an excellent circus (creative, funny, with all kinds of exciting acrobats, and they’re kind to animals and have sensory-friendly shows for people who can’t take a lot of noise and flashing lights and such).

But we’d missed all the “buy one get one free” ticket dates. And the last time we went, I was there to review it, which meant spectacular seats, which are not quite in the budget right now. Plus, I wasn’t up for schlepping the kids by T all the way into Boston, getting home late (or getting home right in time for an afternoon of soccer and T-ball with no time for lunch).

I was sorry to have to miss the circus, but then I found out the local middle school was putting on a performance of “Annie Jr.” tonight. I have no idea why it is called “Annie Jr.” It was basically “Annie,” the musical. I haven’t seen it since I was five or so (and no, I’m not going to do the math for you on how long ago that was), so maybe there’s more to the story, but let’s just call it “Annie.”

Of course I made the boys hit the bathroom before the show. And there was the “Boys’ Restroom” and “Girls’ Restroom” and then this:

IMG_7926

Yay, Ottoson Middle School!

 

We headed right for it.

The boys had some questions about this. Why did they have this bathroom, which was a good-sized single-room bathroom? Who would use it? Why would anyone need it if there’s a girls’ room and a boys’ room?

“Well,” I began, “some people might not feel comfortable in the boys’ bathroom or the girls’ bathroom.” Never mind the wheelchair accessibility issue, which I completely overlooked in this conversation; bathroom rights are on my mind.

“Why?” Max asked.

“Well, they just might not feel comfortable in there, or going to the bathroom in there.” Wow, I am lame.

“But why not?” Max persisted.

“Well,” I began again, “some people who are born as boys feel more like they are girls, and some people who are born as girls feel more like they are boys. And so they might not feel comfortable in a boys’ or girls’ bathroom.”

“Oh, you mean ‘transgender,'” said my wise second grader. “So a boy feels more like a girl.”

Right, thanks, yeah, that’s the word I was looking for, child.

“Yes,” I said. “Well, not exactly. It could be a girl who feels more like she’s a boy. Or someone who feels like they are either or neither, they’re a person without having to be a boy or a girl.”

And then, in a rush, I remembered the middle school years and all that might happen there — periods, having to take a dump at school, weird body stuff, whatever.

“Oh,” I added, “and sometimes people just want to be in the bathroom by themselves. Do you ever want to use the bathroom by yourself at school?”

My children looked confused. “No. Why would anyone want that?”

Nope. I am not going to get into early menstruation here.

“So where did you learn about transgender people? And do you have any questions about it?” They did not, and they ran off down the hall toward the theater. We’ll talk about it more another time.

And then we miraculously got pretty good seats in the middle school gym, and when we found out we still had another half-hour before showtime, we played tic-tac-toe and I bought the boys some candy and we had a grand old time. It’s nice to see them so happy.

When the show began — this middle school production easily on par with the community theater I once performed with up in Maine — the boys were mesmerized. I wasn’t sure they’d be into “Annie,” since they’re so into “Star Wars” and wars and battles and Nerf guns and are definitely not into singing and not entirely comfortable with dancing and here they were at an entire musical about little girls and everyone’s singing and dancing.

They loved it. They loved it all. They were as rapt as they’d been at the circus, in fact.

After intermission, as we waited for the second act to begin, Ben said, “This is boring!” and I tensed but then realized he meant the intermission.

Best part, maybe? He clapped. This is a kid who hates when I applaud at any event. It bugs him, and he tries to block my hands. Tonight? He clapped. After every song. And so did Max. They’d close up their push-pops (don’t judge) and applaud.

So. Congratulations, local middle school, for an excellent and full-hearted production. And extra congratulations, local middle school, for your gender neutral bathroom and the conversations it brings up.

Applause.

 

 

Without the Kids

We’re all still adjusting to the new schedule, but we’re coming along. Some things haven’t changed much: I still pick the kids up from school every day, for example. And we’re all together each weekend for T-ball and soccer, plus we all see each other on soccer practice nights during the week.

My first weekend without the kids, I kept busy. Very busy. I transformed my living room from an unlit space with merely a chair, a rug, and a TV to a warm, inviting, somewhat stylish place with a couch, a side table, lamps, and a plant (thanks, IKEA and the woman whose moving sale I happened across on my way home from a trail run!).

The weekdays are just busy, anyway, what with work and school pickup and trying to get done what I can and figuring out who has the cleats and which house has the favorite pajamas and do the kids have pants for tomorrow. Tonight felt like the first real night of being without the children.

I brought the boys to meet up with C at a sporting goods store to get baseball gloves for the boys (alas, C and I couldn’t find any for ourselves at a reasonable price). Then in the parking lot I handed over their backpacks, kissed them goodbye, and headed off. Without them. It was jolting and freeing but mostly, at the moment, jolting.

Stay busy. I went to the grocery store and then home. The night’s plan for a coconut curry veggie soup had to be postponed because I wanted to get to a meeting. My road running club is trying to find a new location for their annual ultra, and I want to participate.

But home alone, making dinner (well, reheating leftovers from when I grilled on Saturday night — and ask me if I have finally mastered the charcoal grill. Yes, yes, I have. I’m very proud of this after an adulthood of gas grilling), I felt a great aloneness. It wasn’t terrible. But I realized that so many people live alone all the time, not just part of the time. They eat all their meals alone. I know it can be satisfying sometimes, but that seemed a little lonely to me, to have to eat alone most of the time.

Me, I ended up pretty happy to eat dinner and read the paper and then brush my teeth and head out. Would I have been so sanguine if I didn’t have somewhere to go? I don’t know. I would have found something to do, I’m sure. But I’ve had constant chaos and noise and movement for the past almost eight years. For me, the quiet and the not-being-in-charge-of-everything is not terrible. It’s hard to talk about what all of this is really like without sounding disloyal or unmotherly or… let’s just say that as a Capricorn introvert, this new quiet in my home is interesting.

Yes, keeping busy is my M.O. for now, and that’s OK. There’s plenty of time for meditation later. It’s OK to stay busy as we get used to this.

I met the group to brainstorm possible race locations, discuss pros and cons, and figure out next steps. I met new people. I laughed. I was asked for my opinion. I came up with ideas. I felt useful and independent.

And then home again, home again. On my kid-free days I can leave home super-early to get to the gym before work, but tomorrow I might try to get to a 6 a.m. yoga class instead. I’m not sure that will quite be possible, as it’s more than a mile in the wrong direction.

I’m always lugging lots of stuff to work: gym stuff, my laptop, shower stuff and work clothes (for after the gym), breakfast and lunch (in reusable containers, of course, so I lug it all home again). That’s a lot of stuff to lug. I don’t mind, but I’m not sure I can add a yoga mat and bike helmet to it all.

So it’s off to the gym tomorrow, and I’ll probably meet my running club for the track workout tomorrow night, mostly because I can.

Being alone sometimes is OK.

 

I kind of hate big announcements.

Hey, blog readers, I’m going to tell you something personal.

I’m telling you because you read my blog. Maybe you’ve been a longtime reader, someone connected since my exceptionally open postpartum depression days, or someone who just stops by now and then. In any case, I know my blog has really sagged lately for many reasons: my kids want privacy, I share a lot on Facebook that I previously would have talked about here, I no longer want to share as much personal stuff as I once did. And I’m busy with work and kids and no longer prioritizing my blog as much as I used to.

Anyway, we’ve told family, we’ve told close friends (and oh, dear friends, if I haven’t yet told you, it’s not that you’re not “the closest,” but I have a LOT going on right now–you have no idea–and I love you, and let’s talk), and as last weekend we have told the children: C and I are separating, heading for divorce. In short, it’s been a long time coming. We are fine, the children are fine. we have support, and his new place is very close to our current place. He moved out today.*

We’re OK. Feel free to ask me what you want to (I reserve the right not to answer), and please feel free to reach out if you want to hang out sometimes on weeknights or the weekends on which I will not be with my children. Which will be both freeing and painful. I’m here. You know how to reach me. Thanks for reading.

*Mostly. It will be a little while before the new place is fully set up. You know.  Lots of beds and stuff to obtain. It’s OK. There’s no rush. We’re getting there.