Tag Archives: Life

Divorce is stupid

I hate being divorced.  It’s so stupid.  It’s stupid that all of these years later it is still there.

I love where I am right now.  I love my husband.  I love my life and my children and my home.  I can even confidently say that I love myself.  And none of those things would be without my past.  But I still hate it.

I hate that it makes me cry out of nowhere.  I hate that it makes me feel like all of the things that should feel permanent might just disappear one day.

I hate it more now that we have come all the way out the other side.  Last week when we sat on the beach and exchanged pleasantries, I hated every minute. When I realized that more time had passed since I had seen him than ever before in the last 18 years, I hated it.  When we spoke last week and I said “how was your day?” and he laughed and said “not good” I hated that my heart seized up in my chest because I am so ready for all of his days to be “all good.”  He deserves that much.

I hate that I don’t know where he works exactly or what the inside of his home looks like because I used to know everything, even things I wish I didn’t know.

It was easier when I got to say that I was divorced but that he was still my best friend because he was the person that knew me best. He was the person that had known me the longest.  But the truth is, the last six years have changed us both so much that unless we are talking about “the good old days” (which we both know weren’t really very good at all most days) it is like talking to someone I just met.

If it is possible to stand side by side with someone and feel like it all happened to other people how can you not fear that the now, the present that you love so much could all just go up in smoke?

To recap: I love right now, today.  And I loved yesterday and I am certain that I will love tomorrow.  And in spite of the Fear that creeps up in me sometimes, I refuse to feel Doubt.  I will smile and hold on and be 100% certain that I will love my life decades from now.

10001246_602805879801095_4743717070025521868_oMQD made a wind chime this weekend. We talked about getting rocking chairs for the front porch and I smiled and teared up. I gave him a pair of rocking chairs when we had not been dating very long at all and said something cheesy about how it would be nice to sit and rock in them together one day a very, very long time from now.  That was years ago and that pair of old rocking chairs never made it to our new house.

Even though I am divorced and even though that first pair of old rocking chairs rotted beyond repair –  I still believe.  It won’t be easy.  And we might have more than a few pairs of rocking chairs in our future because it’s true, nothing lasts forever.  But dammit, I won’t let hating my divorce keep me from loving my marriage.  Because that doesn’t make any damn sense at all.

To second chances, spring time, windchimes and rocking chairs.  To divorce and marriage and Love and tears and starting over.  Cheers!

Edited to add: It’s strange that I am grieving now of all times. It was easier when it hurt all of the time. I understood that. This part, the part when it is ancient history is a whole new kind of hurt. J, it was really good to see you.  It made me happy.  And seeing you happy made me happy.  And then it made me sad.  Ugh.  Miss me?  Ha! -K

What does the owl say?

Most of the time we cruise along on autopilot. Life happens all around us and we turn around from time to time and we can’t figure out how we got to where we are or remember a time when we were anywhere else.

Very rarely do we have the chance to see Life happening. But when we do – what do we do? Do we stop it from happening, draw attention to it? Take a picture?

Me? I loudly say “What did you just say?” as though I caught a kid cussing me out behind my back.

Owl tattoo

For Lucy’s first birthday I got an owl tattoo to commemorate her life thus far and so that when the dark circles under my eyes fade I won’t forget the year that I stayed awake all blessed night long for a year.  Shortly after I got her tattoo I started seeing owls everywhere. Consequently she has owl pajamas and we point out the owls we see in stores and magazines. Like any good parent of a toddler I say “What does an owl say?” and she says “Hooo hoo.”

And that’s the long version of how owls came to be called Hoo-hoos in our house.

I am not big on Baby Talk.  We use real words to talk about things.  How else do your kids learn to talk? But something about Hoo-hoos made me smile and I may very well have asked a certain someone if she wants to wear her Hoo-hoo pajamas a time or two.

Today Lucy said owl.  I don’t even know what she was talking about but I wheeled around and shouted “What did you say?” and she said it again, “Owl.”

It’s just one small thing.  But if I don’t write it down I will forget.  I won’t remember when that part of Life happened.  And before I turn around Emily will be driving a car and Lucy will be begging to wear lip gloss to school. And I won’t be able to explain how it happened.

Someone will be wearing her hoo-hoo pajamas tonight. And maybe tomorrow night.

Choice

I don’t push other people’s posts and videos often.  But I am moved to do so this morning.

Watch this video.  Or don’t.  The whole point of the video is that you have a choice. You make conscious decisions.  I hope you choose to watch this.  I hope you try to live it.  I plan to.

This moved me so that I sought out the source.  If you are interested: here is a transcription of David Foster Wallace’s entire 2005 Kenyon Commencement Address.

Happily Divorced

“But you probably don’t want to hear about that…” you said.  You let your voice trail off the way you do when you aren’t sure if I am going to start talking. You were talking  about your girlfriend’s youngest daughter, her schoolwork.  If you were  just a casual friend the dismissal could have been interpreted to mean that every parent has conversations about homework with their teenager and it isn’t terribly interesting so why waste time talking about it.

But you aren’t a casual friend.  So, I have spent the last few days wondering what that single sentence meant.  Because that’s how we talk.  We laugh about old friends and trade “Did you hear that so and so got married?” and “Oh man, I had a sandwich with boursin mayonnaise on it and damn I forgot how much I love that stuff” and in between we say small things that we mean.  Things like “You sound happy” and “I’m glad you called.”

“But you probably don’t want to hear about that…”

Why?  Do you think that I am not interested in hearing about how you are settling in to a quiet life of doing home projects and arguing with kids about homework and being around at dinner time? I suppose it is fair to assume that it might sting a little.  Ten years ago I had imagined that you’d be putting down my hardwood floors, tucking our daughter in to bed and sitting on the deck with me wondering if we’d get one more warm weekend on the beach before fall quickly turned to winter.

I don’t hesitate to talk to you about the kids or my life.  It isn’t a secret that I am very, very happily married and I don’t hide that from you.  I talk about our daughter throwing a softball with MQD and I know that you’d imagined doing that someday.  I know that probably stings a little more than hardwood floors and a seat at the dinner table.  I don’t keep my life a secret because I know that in your heart of hearts you want us to be happy.  Even if it stings a little.

blurry jer

For almost a decade I have believed that you just never wanted the life that I wanted. It was easier to imagine that this life, the dinner seven days a week at 6 pm and a quiet life raising kids in the ‘burbs just wasn’t for you than to admit that maybe the only part of that life that didn’t work for you was the part that was me.

Maybe that was why you said I didn’t want to hear about your life now.

But you’re wrong.

A person can’t run wild and free in to their old age. Sooner or later they need to slow down.  For so many years I just imagined that you’d never slow down.  You’d just go at top speed until the end.  It is almost as if there is only so much life to be lived and you were planning on living all of yours before you ever hit 50.

I see you slowing down.  I see you happy.  You don’t have to hide it.  Because you know what doesn’t sting at all? You just might be around when Em graduates from high school.

I am glad you’re happy.  I am glad you’re slowing down.  I am glad I wasn’t wrong when I thought that you might settle down one day.  You know I love being right.  Turns out I just wasn’t right for you.  And I am glad about that, too.  Because in the end we’re both happy.

I guess if we couldn’t be happily married than happily divorced will work.   

Keeping Up Appearances

I used to mow the grass  in cut off Levi 501s and a bikini top.  It was an excuse to strut back and forth in the yard and work on my tan. As time wore on those Levis got shorter and shorter but I got older and sassier and cared less and less about what was appropriate.  I was mowing my damn grass, right?  And wolf whistles happened less and less frequently.  I’d take what I could get.

This summer I mowed the grass often just to have a few minutes to myself.  The cut off Levis have long since been retired.  These days I don’t put a tremendous amount of thought in to what I wear to mow the grass.  None of my neighbors (the same neighbors that wave at me daily as I stroll down the street with my dog or run by in the morning with the jogging stroller) are likely to cat call anyway so who might I even try to impress?

But my grass mowing attire was at least Go Out in Public Even If It Is Only To The Gas Station worthy.  I would be traipsing back and forth across my yard for thirty minutes.  This warrants more care than the Run Down To The End Of The Driveway With The Trash Can Before You Miss The Trash Truck outfit.

And then this happened.

Hot Mess

 

Look carefully.  This woman reflected in the side of her car is wearing a velour sweatsuit with the pants pegged so as to not drag along the ground and Crocs.  Let me repeat that.  I have PEGGED THE LEGS OF MY VELOUR SWEAT PANTS.  And I have chosen to wear socks and Crocs.  Now I think that some kind of a tool (any kind, really) can elevate a woman’s hotness.  But let’s face it.  A leaf blower is not much of a tool.

I think I have given up.  It has happened.

I remember (as long ago as yesterday when I would not have dreamed of doing this!) looking at women and thinking “what the hell is wrong with you?  You have a pulse, for fuck’s sake, brush your hair” and now look at me. What am I doing? Perhaps this has been a lesson in “Judge Not Less Ye Be Judged.”

little missy

Granted, I have a terrible cold. My youngest looks like a refugee and is currently wearing a shirt belonging to my oldest and flowered pants.  Her baby is being toted around in a towel.   I haven’t really made much in the way of dinner in two days and I am running on caffeine and Dayquil. (Speaking of running, I knocked back two slugs of Dayquil this morning, before I left for my run and set a PR for a 5K distance.  Not an all time PR, but a since I have been injured PR.  Wheee!  Bronchodilators for the Win!!)

I am not at my best.  I’m not sleeping.  Showering is a successful day.  I am spent and cranky and not looking for a hot date.  But pegged velour sweatpants?

I can do better than that. I can.  And I will.  You have my word.

I’m a wreck.  But my yard looks nice.

So, how are you? Have you caught yourself doing anything mortifying lately?  

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I like to mow instead of rake. It’s like vacuuming your yard.

 

 

Kickstart My Heart

I have a tendency to yammer on a bit.  I know this is a shocking reveal.  I will give you a second to pull your jaw up off the floor.

This morning I was delivering a lengthy commentary on the level of my satisfaction with my marriage to MQD.  He was leaning against the counter, smiling.  He was listening.  Naturally, I felt encouraged and kept talking.

“I’ve been thinking maybe this wasn’t a big mistake,” he said with his signature smirk.

Just when I start to make peace with the fact that I am definitely the funniest, he slays me.

For nearly four years I have had a single favorite picture of this fellow I am proud to call my husband.

LASERPENIS

It really captures the joie de vivre of our early courtship.

Last night we were at the local elementary school for some rocking good Friday night fun when I said “Oh!  Let me get your picture by that sign!” and shockingly, he agreed.

It might be my new favorite picture.  It captures the essence of the change that has taken place.  I have lamented here before that my 25 year-old boy became a 30 year-old man.  But if I am honest with myself, I am partly to blame and perhaps even to credit.  Because he really has been building his character, one cougar at a time.

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 I love you, MQD.  I hope I am your cougar for a long, long time.  As you turned up the radio this morning and shook your ass I had to laugh.  “This is a wedding song!” you said.

“Perhaps not for everyone.  But yep.  It is one of ours.”

You do.  You kickstart my heart every morning.

Back to School Squash

At seven-going-on-seventeen it is so easy to be mortified.  With the start of a new year of school I am watchful for the subtle shifts in behavior.  Do I get a kiss when the school bus pulls up?  Am I woefully out of touch as I suggest outfits for the first week of school?

So far it seems my sweet, big girl is still my funny, little girl underneath it all.   The first day of school outfit was a smashing success and I got a kiss AND a hug in front of the school bus.  There was no additional waving once the bus was boarded but the tinted windows on the bus let me believe that perhaps I just missed it.

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Obligatory First Day of School Pic

Day one was a win all the way around.

Day two started smoothly.  And then every parent’s favorite – “Oh, wait. I did have homework” – moments before the bus is to arrive.  Ever dramatic (where does she get that from?) she clarified that actually she just had to think about something that makes her unique and be prepared to talk about it in class.  Seizing an opportunity to make her roll her eyes, I made several suggestions.  “You could tell them about how everyone in your family is criminally insane.”

“I try and appear totally normal at school.” Good luck with that, kid.

“Umm, you could talk about what it is like to live in a house with a mother that is so incredibly beautiful?” This is funnier if said mother is wearing a nightgown and half a ponytail and her pink fuzzy slippers.

Eye roll number two. And a smile.  The eye roll/smile combo is essential to my parenting.  If I can get her to be annoyed and find it all at once unavoidable to reveal the fact that she shares my sense of warped humor I know I am doing something right.  We all need our own parenting yardstick and this is mine. This sense of humor has served me well and it is all I hope to pass down.

I was hula-hooping in the driveway with Lucy when the bus arrived in the afternoon.  (Testimony to her still being a little more kid than pre-teen, this is not embarrassing at all.) Em hopped off the bus as she always does, mid-sentence.  She had a smirk on her face.  “How was your day?” I called to her.

“Well… it was embarrassing.”

Uh-oh. “Look what someone put in my backpack!”

It could have been so much worse.  We were in the front yard after school on Monday and Lucy was picking vegetables.  It seems she thought she would pack Em a snack. In the greater scheme of things, of all the things she could have slipped in her backpack a squash isn’t so bad.

Traditions are born in funny ways.  I am tempted.  The Second Day of School Squash might elicit the eye roll/smile for many years to come.  Or at least I hope it does.  I have made a note in my calendar.  Late August, 2014.  “Stick squash in Em’s backpack.”

Squash

Lucy NEEDS that squash. It’s as if she has been wondering for an entire day where in the hell she stashed it.

You can call me Mom, the Yes Man

Sometimes you want to be the parent that says yes.  So this morning when Em said “Can we go to Dunkin Donuts?” I just said “Sure” before I could change my mind.

Thirty minutes later we were eating donuts and hanging out at the swanky truck stop near our house when she said “Do you think I will ever get to play that game?” and pointed to the money robbing machine where you put a dollar in and try to grab a stuffed animal with the crane.  I said yes again.

It was a good morning.  Em was talking us up. Hopped up on donuts and orange juice she was even chattier than normal.

“Why do they make those machines so that you can never win? The man that owns that machine should just do something and get a job to make money instead of taking everyone’s dollars.  Do you think I should pack three or four outfits for while we are gone.  I think four.  Do you know why I always pack an extra outfit?”

“In case you pee your pants?” I said.

“No, because…”

And MQD interrupts to say “I once knew a DJ named MC Pee Pants”

And she burst in to tears.

“Why can’t I ever finish what I am saying without getting interrupted?  You guys are constantly acting crazy and saying crazy things and I am just being normal?!!”

And so it has begun.  We are no longer funny.  Poor kid.  It is going to get so much worse before it gets better.

From earlier this morning, when I was still funny.

From earlier this morning, when I was still funny.

My Running Shoes Carried Me

I am not a Godly gal. I’m just not. But there’s a poem that has always sung to me in the moments when I am needing to have faith in something bigger than myself. I think it was on a bookmark that I had long ago, I am certain that you are familiar with the poem – the poem about walking on the sand at the beach and noticing only one set of footprints. It is the last line that has always resonated with me. “The Lord replied, “The times when you have seen only one set of footprints, is when I carried you.”

Tuesday morning I saw my father before he went in to surgery. Tuesday evening I saw him again. He was still “sleeping.” (I still prefer to think of him as sleeping, not heavily sedated to prevent the inevitable grasping at his breathing tube.) I kissed his forehead. I held his hand. My dad has warm hands. Always. His hands were cold as ice. They weren’t my dad’s hands. I didn’t stay long. He didn’t know I was there and I needed to keep my game face on for my step-mother. This was not the time for tears. I returned to the waiting room.

“He is still resting. I told his nurse to give you all the details.”

We had to go in one at a time because Lucy was not allowed in the ICU.

I went back to my hotel room that night. Lucy fell asleep quickly and I spent the evening staring at the wall. We woke early, both of us. I’d not be able to see my dad again until 10 in the morning. So, I did the only thing I knew to do.

Long before I found the Unitarian Church I went to the church of Sweat. Crisis makes you return to your roots. I strapped on my running shoes and with a stroller not at all intended for jogging I took off down the streets of downtown Louisville. The familiar sounds of my playlist filled my ears and my brain stopped buzzing for a few minutes. Until my iPhone said “Distance .5 miles, current pace is 8 minutes and 30 seconds per mile.” No stress here, just running about a minute faster than I usually do.

Louisville is a pretty city. The people are friendly. Most folks waved at me, many stepped out of my way. I took in the sights. Big buildings. Theaters. Street Paintings. Churches. I sighed as I have so many times in my life and thought “I wish I had a church. I’d go in one now. And pray. I’d pray my fucking ass off right now.” (See? I am not a pray-er. I suppose you don’t actually “pray your ass off,” huh?)

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20130610-224512.jpgI kept running. Another mile. Still another mile. It was a good twenty more minutes before I realized that I DO have a church. And what do you know, downtown Louisville has a pretty big Unitarian church and I wasn’t but a block away. Tentatively I knocked on the door. “Come around back if doors are locked” read a small sign. I am not one to “bother” anyone. Ever. And before my mind could stop my feet I ran around the back of the building and pushed my stroller up their handicap ramp and rang the bell.

“Can I help you?”

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The voice of the woman on the other side of the intercom made my bottom lip start to quiver. “Umm. I was hoping I could poke my head inside your sanctuary for a moment.”

She replied simply “Why do you want to “poke your head inside?”

And then the lip quiver became a tear. And another tear. “Because my dad had surgery yesterday and I think it might make me feel better to stand inside your sanctuary for a moment.”

“Certainly.” That’s all she said. And she let me in.

20130610-224516.jpgMany Unitarian churches have a time in their service where members of the congregation are invited to share their Joys & Concerns. It serves to build a community and to give us a moment to share in the moments of one another’s lives that make up the valleys and the peaks. With Lucy in her stroller I walked to the front of the sanctuary and said quietly to everyone and no one “As many of you know my father had surgery yesterday morning. I will be going to see him this morning. If you’d hold him in the light and send me all of the love you can for the next few hours I would really appreciate it.” I closed my eyes and stood in silence for a few moments. I wrote a note in their book and split before I might have to talk to anyone. “Thank you! Thank you so very much!!” I called out to the kindly stranger that had let me through the door.

20130610-224625.jpgI went straight back outside and returned to the Church of Sweat. Two more miles. A shower and a quick breakfast. Before I knew it it was 10 am and Lucy and I were heading over to the ICU.

Dad was awake. He was giving his nurse a hard time about the flavors of jell-o he’d been offered. He was sitting up in a chair. He was chock full of tubes and painkiller’s but when I said “I know you had wanted to get your surgery done early in the morning but I am so glad it was postponed until the afternoon so that I could see you before you went in” he grimaced.

“Good, Kel. I’m really glad you were glad.” I laughed. He winced.

I said “And thanks for being awake, I am just barely keeping my shit together here, and you know it is all about me, right?” He held my hand. His hands were still cold. But he was back. My dad.

Faith is a funny thing. I have spent the better part of my adult life thinking I didn’t really have any. But then I needed it. And damn if something didn’t carry me.

 

 

Summertime

Summertime makes many of us think about being a kid.  The days lasts longer, afternoons stretch in to early evening and  we ride our bikes after dinner.  It’s easy to see why when the weather gets warm our minds drift towards our childhood.  Summertime epitomizes the innocence of youth, the freedom and the recklessness and the joy we miss in the day to day of adulthood.  I can almost bet it has been too long since you have gone down a hill on a bicycle with your hands in the air.  But that feeling of being just a little bit scared and a lot excited – that’s summertime.

As a child I never thought about being a kid.  In fact, summertime was quite the opposite.  Summertime meant I was getting older.  I was no longer in eighth grade, I was a “freshman.” I no longer swam 8 and under, I was a 9-10. Last year’s bicycle was too small, this year’s bikini is even smaller.  Summertime was a hot and sweaty reminder that I was growing up.

This summer began with a trip up to DC. My grandmother has recently moved from Florida to DC to be closer to my mother.  We were heading up to pick up her car as she has decided her driving days are better left in Florida.

I was in the back seat between the girls.  They were both asleep.  Mike was driving in silence.  I had an overwhelming feeling of being an adult.  I wasn’t the just the older sister anymore.  I was a real grown-up.  My two children, my sweet husband, going to visit my great-grandmother, I’m not sure what it was but I am certain the warm, night air played a part in evoking this feeling of passage.

The following morning I’d get a phone call that would solidify this feeling.  As I was riding in silence with my family my father was being admitted to a hospital after a heart attack. In the following 72 hours he would discover he needed bypass surgery and I would board a plane with my youngest to meet him at the hospital.

Little girls do not drive to the airport at 5:30 am bound for a hospital.  Young girls do not have conversations with their kids, apologizing for missing the last day of school party.  Mothers of only small children do not ever have the chance to hear their oldest daughter say “Mom, I would do the same thing if I were you, Dad and I will be fine here.  Go.” Young women do not  close their eyes in a hotel room near a hospital, begging for sleep that will never come, praying that their father will be awake in the morning.

I am growing up.  And so are my parents.  And their parents.  And so are my children.

This summer started like the summers of my youth.  I got a little bit older the minute the temperatures started rising and the swimming pool opened.  Unlike those summers from long ago – I don’t have my eyes on next summer already.  I’d like to stay right here for a bit, where the days are long and the nights are longer and my family is all around me.

I’d always imagined that the winds of change were cold and blustering. But I think change comes in with the wind of summer thunderstorms.  The warm sun on your shoulders and the welcomed shift in humidity makes you forget that the changes started with thunder and lightning.

Lucy did not suffer from the same sleeplessness.

Lucy did not suffer from the same sleeplessness.

Thank you all for your kind words and thoughts over the last week. My dad is a champ. His surgery went “as well as a bypass can go” according to his surgeon and he is already home. Here’s hoping the rest of the summer has fewer surprises.  

A very, very big thank you to MQD for holding down the fort at home.  You are such a good dad and an even more wonderful husband.  Your support makes it easier for me to be the mother and the wife and the daughter I want to be. xo