Friday, December 26, 2014

The Passage of Time

The older I get, the more I am struck by the passage of time.  The old adage "the days are long but the years are short" certainly has a truth to it: I fall into bed most nights just exhausted and wondering how I will make it through a long week, but the years have a mind of their own and play tricks on me, going faster than seems possible.

My beautiful daughter is changing before my eyes, and this is the most obvious change of all.  At nearly twelve, her changes are happening faster and faster, and some days I think that she goes to bed a child and wakes up a woman, repeating the phenomenon daily as she goes back and forth between the two.  She is often graceful, thoughtful, and articulate, showing great leadership qualities, but then fifteen seconds later she is collapsing in giggles because of something juvenile like the dog farting.  She alternately acts like a teenager - all pop music and "the right clothes" (a category that, as her mother, I do not have access to: I can only rest assured that if I say, "That's cute!" I will hear "MOOOOMMMMM!  No!") - and childish, with a rediscovered love of My Little Pony and a need to climb every tree within reach.

It's a magical stage.  I have access to her childhood and to her future simultaneously.  I am reminded of the tiny child I brought home - and she was tiny, and stayed that way for a while, not reaching ten pounds until she was two and a half months old - and the woman who will one day be my friend, back and forth, all day every day.  She is smart and funny and plays word games with me and brings up ideas I hadn't thought of, but she's also still a child,

On Christmas Eve, she got her first period.  (A statement of fact that would MORTIFY her if she knew I'd written it here, but she has no access to this blog or knowledge of it, and as I blog anonymously I think I'm okay saying it.)  She handled it with maturity, managing the details and then casually mentioning to me by saying, "Well, I just got a Christmas present that I was NOT expecting!"  In some cultures, this would mean that she was ready for marriage.  I am grateful that we are not in one of those cultures!  I will not try to stop time, but nor do I have the slightest desire to speed it up.

We will celebrate her milestone by having a mother-daughter dinner at a restaurant that we've never been to before, but is famous in our city.  I can't afford it, of course (it's crazy-expensive) but I will do it anyway, because it's a major milestone for her, and I want her to embrace it, and to feel the marking of this moment, and to feel celebrated.  I am celebrating alongside her, with my breath catching in my throat, a combined shock that she is of this age, and pure joy that I am alive to witness this next phase.  When I was diagnosed with cancer, my prayer was "please let me get her through kindergarten!" and this is so much better than that.  Whoever wrote "It's not the number of breaths you take, but the number of moments that take your breath away" doesn't understand my life at all: every single day is filled with breathtaking moments, and I want ALL of them.  How can I have more breathtaking moments if I'm not here to live them?  I intend to fully celebrate all that is good in my life, so that is what I will keep doing.


I have been told, over and over, by parents "in the know", that "JUST YOU WAIT!" and that when Katherine got her period she would turn into a she-monster and our relationship would fall apart, or at least in the months leading up to the event things would be terrible.  My mother - not realizing that the event had already happened - actually said as much again just yesterday.  I have never been so happy to prove everyone wrong.  My relationship with Katherine has never been better, and I have deep faith that we will continue on this path.


Bryan hasn't lived in this house for two and a half years - both a blink of an eye and an eternity.  This Christmas, his presence at the holiday and in my home was a non-issue for me.  I actually told Katherine, "I hope you don't think that this is weird, but now Dad feels like just another part of the family, like my brother or my cousin.  I can't imagine being married to him anymore, but it's easy to have him around."  Katherine laughed and said that was fine and that she was glad we don't argue anymore.  Me too, sweetheart, me too.


Another year is nearly ready to be put to rest.  This weekend, I will put away all of the Christmas clutter, sweep away the needles from the tree, plump up the pillows, and face the new year head on.  This in-between time is always a time of reflection for me, remembering the highlights and lowlights of the year behind, and dreaming of the year ahead.

I want to live my life fully in every way.  I want to feel my life, to savor it, to notice its happenings.  I want to celebrate every single tiny thing that is worth celebrating, and I do not wish to be be afraid to mourn what must be mourned.  Most of all, I want to notice how much excess of celebration I have been granted, so that I can see that the mourning is not so hard.

Happy in-between time to you, too.  As we put away the contents of 2014 and look ahead to 2015, I hope that you have more to celebrate than to mourn as well.

Sunday, December 21, 2014

Preparing for 2015

2014 is slowly closing, and it feels like this has been a big year.

I opened the year unemployed, feeling determined but very, very frightened.  I was ecstatic when I gained admittance into the new career path with a new job in April, and I have to say that I'm still very proud of myself for getting that going.  It was definitely a year where career was the focus: a year of learning, of taking some bumps, of navigating new territory.  I am closing this year on some high notes, though: I have certainly proven that I can do my job well, and I've also got people encouraging me to get the next job....and I'm pretty damned excited about that.  I am so grateful to be on this path, and I'm excited about what the next year will bring.  I've lined up some meetings in January that might lead to new jobs, and I plan to be in a new job - with a major pay increase, functional (and not dysfunctional!) work environment, mentors, and colleagues as a Major Gifts Officer.  Being a development director for a small organization has been informative, but I don't particularly love wearing many hats, and I feel pulled in a hundred different directions (many of which don't interest me); I want to focus on the part of my job I love the best, and since there are many jobs like that, I'm going for it.

Unemployment created serious financial instability, and I am proud of myself for stabilizing after that.  I've paid off all but a few hundred dollars in debt, and I'm meeting all of my obligations.  I'm proud of that, because it hasn't been easy.  I've stretched myself to get the new car, and I'm stretching myself to go skiing with the ski passes that came free with that car (thank you, Subaru!).  In 2015, I intend to get such a raise that those thins won't feel like such a stretch.  In 2015, I'm going to work on savings: retirement, college, and general savings....and I'm still going to have enough money to travel a smidge, and to ski again next year (even without free ski passes!).  That's my plan, and I think it's more than just a hope, it's a real possibility, and I'm going to work hard to reach it.  A year from now, I expect a very different financial picture in my life, and I'm excited for it.  I will remain in nonprofit, doing what I love, but I will be paid more fairly than I am now.  I can't wait.

Katherine entered middle school this year, and she's grown so much physically - she's over five feet tall now, and growing before my eyes.  Our relationship is better than it has ever been, and I'm stunned at how much she has matured, and what a good person she is.  I have never loved her more.  I hope and pray that we can stay on this path, because I'm very tired of hearing, "Oh, just you wait....!" over and over again.  I am very hopeful that we will break stereotypes, and that we won't have teenager/mother drama.

I started the year incredibly strong in my fitness, and sadly it declined.  I can't run ten miles any more and I"m not sure I could run five, but I'm working on it.  I plan for another half marathon in the late spring, and I'm ready to attack that again.  I worked out five times last week, and that counts for something!  2015 will see me in a return to half marathon fitness, doing a ten (or more) mile run every weekend.  I feel better when I'm doing that, so I will.  This time, I'll be more balanced, though, striving not as much for speed but for consistency in my workouts.  I will ski all winter, hike all summer, and fill in between with running.  I feel good about that plan, and like it has more balance.  (I dream of yoga, too.  I need a plan for that....)

The year fell a bit flat in travel; I didn't get on a plane even once.  I intend to change that.  I did spent a week in the islands on a boat, even with the company of whales, and that was blissful.  I hiked, and I camped.  There were weekend trips.  All was not lost, and good times were had!

The year fell extremely flat in the romance department.  It was almost non-existent, actually.  But on the romance front, I have no goals.  I don't know what I want - I am so quick to push people away, and meet so few people without whom I feel an attraction.  I feel like I've got some lesson to learn, and it makes me sad to think I might spend the entire next year alone, but I am determined to use my life wisely, and I don't have it figured out.  I'm trying to feel Zen about it, to accept whatever will be, and to remain open to the possibilities.

It wasn't a perfect year...but it was a good one.  I remained in good health.  My daughter thrived.  I supported myself, even through some rough months.

2015 promises to be an AMAZING year, and I am ready.

But first, the joys and busy days of Christmas.  I have a week at home - a staycation - and so far I've used every minute.  We've had friends over for a mini-party, Katherine had three friends sleep over on Friday night, we went to a Christmas party, we went swimming with the cousins, and now the cousins are spending the night here.  The tree is up, the front porch is decorated with garlands and lights and bows and a wreath, and there are nutcrackers on the piano.  There are presents under the tree, and more awaiting being wrapped.

I'm a lucky woman, grateful for my life, grateful for the hope of more good times to come.

Happy holidays!

Sunday, December 14, 2014

Successful Divorce

I have what I would term a successful divorce.

My definition of successful?  My ex and I are able to co-parent our daughter with minimal conflict.  Our daughter is doing well, personally and academically.  And I don't carry divorce anger.

I love that last one.

Of COURSE it's important to me that Katherine is thriving - her health and welfare is critical to my own happiness.  By any definition, she's a well adjusted child: she's doing well academically, socially, emotionally.  She rolls her eyes at me like any tween and begs for an iPhone (not going to happen!) but she's warm and kind and funny and....happy.  When I worry and ask her how she is doing with the divorce, if I need to change anything to help her, she smiles and says "Mom, stop worrying.  I'm fine!"

I wouldn't have gotten divorced if I didn't think I could get to that place with Katherine - the place of giving her an excellent childhood despite divorce.  It's a critical part of my own happiness that she is doing well.

But the thing that makes my divorce the most successful, and that perhaps influences Katherine's happiness the most, is that I don't carry divorce anger any more.

It has been three and a half years since I faced my husband in a marriage counseling session and said, "It's over."  There was a LOT of anger that lead to that place, and a lot of anger that came after it.  I don't think that divorce can happen without a great deal of sadness and anger, and I am no exception.

But these three and a half years later, I'm not angry or sad about my divorce, and that is what makes me think that it was incredibly successful.


If you've read my blog for a while, you know that Bryan isn't a saint.  He's not a demon, but he's not the most involved father out there, either.  While he loves his daughter (of this I'm certain), that love does not extend to spending that much time with her, or helping with homework, or taking care of chores.  He pays me child support, but it is up to me to do 100% of school shopping, doctor's appointments, health insurance, homework, etc.  On his time, he lets her watch endless amounts of My Little Pony on Netflix and eat junk food (she reports that she rarely if ever eats fruit or vegetables in his house, actually).  She spends four nights a month (two weekends) at his apartment, and often two of those are spent at sleepovers at other kids' homes.

It is far from perfect.  She has a giant school project due on Tuesday, so she's coming home early this weekend (his weekend with her) to work on it here with me, because he can't or won't help her with it.

Since he moved out two and a half years ago, she has spent ONE school night at his house, and it was a disaster because he didn't provide lunch and she was late to school (he blamed her) and he was short tempered with her.  He said, "How am I supposed to get her to school when I have to go to work?" and "It's not my fault she was late - you know how hard it is to get her out of bed in the morning!"

He seems to have forgotten that I work full time, that she is hard to get out of bed every single morning (not just on his shift), and that I pack a lunch for her and get her to school on time every single day despite these things.

I'm repeating all of this because it's important to remember that I have a successful divorce without anger DESPITE THESE THINGS.


All too often, when I read about others' divorces or talk to other divorcees, the common theme is "He's a jerk and you'd be angry too if you were married to him and how dare he put me in that position!"  I get it.  I really do.  I could work myself up into quite a tizzy over Bryan's lack of parenting skills and effort.

This week, Bryan's car broke down on the day he was supposed to take her (in addition to two weekends, he has her on Wednesday evenings for three hours).  I said, "No problem, I'll take her to gymnastics for you."  I arranged to get off work early (which meant working from home late into the evening), throw together a home made meal (pasta with cream, smoked salmon, broccoli, and tomatoes - delicious and fast), and get her to gymnastics on time.  He said he would take Katherine the next day instead, but that morning informed me that the car wasn't fixed yet so he couldn't.  So I repeated the schedule of the day before, made breakfast for dinner (home made blueberry pancakes and eggs....a bit light on the veggies but I didn't have time to pop by the store the day before the way I'd planned!).  I found out that his car was fixed, so I said, "Great.  Can you take her to gymnastics today then?" and he said, "No, my car was broken down for a day so I got behind on some errands and I need to go to the grocery store."

Need I point out that he only has her three hours during the week, whereas I have her the rest of the time, and I'd taken his shift, which was my only three hour break in the week, and I hadn't gone to the grocery store either?!  Need I point out how inconsiderate of my schedule this was, and how lacking in parenting this was?  Need I point out that for a father who loves his daughter, he sure doesn't spend that much time with her, and doesn't go out of his way for her?  Need I point out that this is enough to make a sane person very, very angry?

I'm human.  It irked me.  And I was tired, and wanted some down time.  And I didn't get it.  Despite my comment, "I need to go to the grocery store, too, and I couldn't do that yesterday as planned...." he didn't budge.  I loaded up the child and the dog into the car, drove to gymnastics, got her settled there, took the dog for a walk while she tumbled and cartwheeled and bounced.  And then I got her home and got the laundry going, and then spent some time checking work email after she went to bed, waiting for the wash to be ready for the dryer before I went to sleep.

I could be angry that this is my life.  I could be really, really pissed off that Bryan is such a mediocre father, and that, just like in our marriage, there is no equality, and he does what is best for him without the remotest consideration that his actions impact other people.

But I'm not.  I'm not angry any more.


My divorce was filled with anger and sadness just like other people's divorces.  I won't go into the rest of the details here, because I've covered it elsewhere on my blogs, but the anger was real.  I only mention the recent irksome behavior to point out that it's still a part of my regular life: divorce did not change Bryan into a fantastic human being and an amazing father.  He is still the man who inspired me to divorce him.

But I'm not angry.


I think that the key to my success - happiness with life - is that I decided, while still in the divorce process, that if I was going to put myself and my daughter through the pain and suffering of divorce, I had to use that pain and suffering to get to a really great life.

When I'm angry, I feel miserable.  That burning feeling, the focus that anger brings, the mental refrain of "it's not fair!" and "how dare he!" is all consuming, and I loathe that feeling.

I want to feel joy.  Gratitude.  Peace.  Laughter.  I want to focus on all of the good things going on in my life.  I want to be truly present to the small moments ("Wow, I can't believe that Katherine can move her body like that!" and "This smoked salmon is so delicious!" and "This song makes me feel like dancing" and "Oh I solved the problem at work!" and "That sunset is gorgeous" and "I love putting up the Christmas tree!") and not be stuck in the mire of anger.

I do not know how to lead a happy life while feeling resentment about my marriage, its end, and the divorced life.

And I really, really, really want to be happy.


I spoke to a UU minister the day before I asked for my divorce; she is the only person I told prior to telling Bryan.  I told her, "I'm SO ANGRY!" - angry at Bryan, angry that I had to get a divorce, angry to find myself leading NOT my dream life, angry that it should have been so different.  She said something wise to me in that moment.  She said:

"Your anger has served you well: it was your body's way of telling you that you needed to change things, that things were not well.  But now you've used that anger to create change, and the anger doesn't serve itself any more.  It's time to let the anger go."

At first, I thought that she was crazy.  "Let it go" is a Disney song (not yet released at the time of that conversation, but still!) and if it was that easy, well, life would be a lot easier!  I wanted REAL advice, something helpful, and I got "let it go"?!  I thought surely she'd lost her mind by passing along such watered down platitudes.

But it stuck with me.

It took a long time for her advice to sink in with me, for me to understand the message.

I think that the simplest messages are the hardest ones to understand, and this simplicity was deceptive, because it's one of the most complicated things I've ever done.


I do it imperfectly, but overall, I think I've finally let go of most of the anger around my divorce.

I have some sadness - I never wanted to grow up, get married, have a child, and then get divorced! - but I am much more focused on the joys of my life than I am that sadness.  I just don't feel burning anger any more, not because things are simple, or because Bryan is a model ex-husband, or because my life is otherwise perfect.  I am not Postcards from a Peaceful Divorce, friends with my ex and full of respect for him.  My happiness doesn't come from the situation, it comes from the decision to be happy.


When Bryan bails on Katherine - and hence, on me - I reframe it this way:

Man, he's a mess.  I'm so glad I'm not that much of a mess.  He doesn't realize how he's missing out on so much of Katherine's life - she is such a great kid, and he hardly spends any time with her!  I'm so glad that I have the capacity to be there for her.  Look at me, I'm Wonder Woman!  I can go to work, make the home made meal, and get my daughter where she needs to go, and still find time to read a book or go on a date.  Yay, me!  I'm so glad that I can show up for Katherine in that way.  And I won't say a word to her about it, because she doesn't need to hear that her dad's a schmuck - she can see it anyway.  Too bad for him that he doesn't see what he's missing out, but lucky me, I get to spend more time with my daughter.  Let's go!

I have friends who think that I'm giving him too much, making his life too easy, with my behavior.  He drops the ball, and I pick it up.  He doesn't manage, so I manage.  He leaves all the heavy parenting to me.  Is it fair?  No way.  Do I make his life easier?  Absolutely.

For Christmas, he will come to the party that I throw, and eat my food and drink my drinks.  He will sit by my Christmas tree, and likely make rude comments (it cost too much or it's too traditional or it's too big or there are needles below it and he hates the needles on the floor or the tree skirt is too girly or trees are such a waste of time - I've heard it all).  He will not only eat my food and drink my drink, he will ask for special things and put down other things ("What?  Don't you have scotch?  Man, it's Christmas!" or "What's this salad for, rabbit food?!") even after he helps himself a bit too much to the bottle of Maker's Mark that I put out, leaves his dishes all over the house, asks me to get him another drink as he calls out from the sofa.  Seriously?!

And I'll let it all go.  Sometimes I'll say, "No, sorry, I don't have that," and sometimes I'll say "Help yourself," but I won't say a word as I clean up his messes, and I won't respond to his jibes.

I'll look to Katherine, to her face as she delights in Christmas.  I'll turn to my friends, and we'll catch eyes and they'll go "Is he kidding?" and I'll cheerfully say, "Nope!" and they'll say "I don't know how you do it!" and I'll say "I'm Wonder Woman.  It's a skill," and we'll laugh together.

And I'll feel sorry for Bryan, who doesn't realize that everyone sees his behavior, not just me, and that it reflects poorly on him.

I'll look at my beautiful tree, my happy daughter, my room full of friends, and I will smile that this is my life.  I will enjoy the food - a combination of delicious treats like fondue and chocolate torte, combined with healthier kale salad and fruit salad with pomegranate and satsumas - and be pleased.

This is my definition of a successful divorce.  My life isn't perfect, but I'm not angry any more.  I'm thriving, and my daughter is thriving.  I see more good than bad.

But I wouldn't be human if I didn't look at his behavior, and mine, and think "Buddy, you never had it so good as when we were married.  In the divorce, you got stuck with yourself, and I got this beautiful new life.  Lucky me, because now I only deal with you sometimes, and not every day!  It must stink to be you."

Well, I never said I was perfect or a Zen master.

Sunday, December 7, 2014


The better that my life gets - measured almost entirely by my own level of happiness plus my daughter's level of happiness - the more I see how broken I was.

The more I see how broken I am.

I was crazy to get married to Bryan.  That is not because he was or is a bad person, that is because we were a terrible fit.  He doesn't value physical health (he overeats and drinks too much and doesn't exercise and doesn't have good sleep patterns and basically does everything on the "don't" list from your doctor), he doesn't love adventure, he doesn't care much about his home, and he doesn't like responsibility.  He doesn't volunteer, he's not a nature-guy, and he doesn't really like his job (a choice, given his education and possibilities).  He enjoys a lot of down time reading or watching books, but not doing (and he wanted to read "his" books, and the best way for him to not read a book was for me to recommend it to him).  He didn't want children.  He likes things easy, without a lot of effort.  He doesn't cook or clean.  He doesn't like taking care of other people.

Does this make him a horrible person?  No.

But I can not think of a worse fit for me, AND I PICKED HIM.

I changed all that: I insisted that our marriage change, and then I insisted that he work on his end, and I did a lot of work on myself, and I changed myself and got a backbone to do what I believed in, and still things didn't change on his end, and I ended it.  He was hurt and angry and said that I didn't love him unconditionally, and I see now that even through it all, he had a right to be hurt.  After all, maybe it was me who changed, and not him, and he would have gone on in misery with me for years without divorce, but I ultimately said, "Enough."

I was willing to accept that we didn't fit together, until the grief of it, the grief of trying to fit something that didn't fit, nearly killed me.  Dramatic?  Maybe.  But my breast cancer and my divorce are tied together in my mind, and my unhappiness was the link between them.

Leaving him did not instantly heal all that is broken in me.  I have come so far, but I have a long ways to go, and I see that part of my journey more clearly now.

I am healing my career, my body, my day to day life.  I am so proud of all that I have done to repair what was broken in me, and I'm putting the pieces back together carefully, filling the cracks with gold.

But like any puzzle, it's easy to see where the missing pieces are.

I am not good at romantic relationships.  I never have been.  I have been broken, and brought that brokenness with me to romance.

Right now, I don't see a romantic future.  When I gaze at the future, I see.....nothing.  A curtain is drawn, or it's a fog, or it's all darkness....but I can't see it.

What I know is that I'm terrified of choosing badly again.  I'm terrified of bringing my brokenness, and building out of that brokenness (and a house made of broken pieces would not be a very good house).  I'm fearful that I will shatter what I have so carefully pieced back together.  I fear finding myself once again, the frog in the boiling water, suddenly aware that I am moments from death unless I change everything.

I am good at being single. I have a good life: friends who come for my birthday, wonderful holiday celebrations, a warm and loving relationship with my daughter, manageable finances.  I'm well fed, things are pretty clean, the bills are paid.  This holiday, my tree is up, the porch is strung with lighted garlands, there are cards hanging on the wall.  Life is good, and I am deeply happy.

And grateful.  So intensely grateful to be happy.  I know how blessed I am, and I count my blessings all the time.  I'm alive, and here to enjoy my daughter, my good health, and my abundance.  Deeply grateful.

So I hope it's not ungrateful of me to say that I see my brokenness, and that I still hope, wish and pray that it will be healed.  That I can see that I struggle to let someone into my life, fearful of what that may mean, that maybe I have not been ready for love.

I'd like to be ready for love.  I know that I may not be.

But I have a pot of gold, and I will keep gluing the pieces of my brokenness back together.  It is painstaking work, and so important not to make a mistake: I want the bowl that is me to be smooth, and whole, and I will not go quickly and risk putting in a piece at an angle and ruining the whole.  I will go slowly, cautiously, but I will keep working at it.

I will not pretend that I am whole.

I will not pretend that I know where the lost pieces are, but I will climb on my hands and knees, looking for them under the sofa, wedged under the moldings against the wall, slipped under the refrigerator.  I will go into the dark corner with the dust bunnies and carefully extract these bits of me, wash them like they are a newborn infant, tend to them, and put them back in their place.

There's that famous line of the movie where the female lead says to her romantic interest, "You complete me."  Make no mistake, that is not what I am looking for: no man holds the pieces of me, no man can complete me.  These pieces belong to me, and life has broken them, and I have misplaced them, but they are mine and mine alone, and only I will recognize them (with, perhaps, a bit of divine intervention).

But I think it's remarkable that now I can see where they are missing, and I know to look for them, and that I can tend to them carefully.

I do not know if I will ever be ready for true love.  I do not know if I will be held tenderly the way I wish to be held, and to hold.  I do not know if I will ever model for my daughter what deep love like that looks like.  I hold a vision of what true partnership looks like, and I begin to hope that I will not need to become perfect in order to attain that vision, and that perhaps someone can see how I have been broken and love me anyway.
I will keep working on myself, loving my life, focusing on the goodness in it, while I dream of the kind of love that everyone longs for in their lives.

The man for me will see my scars, and weep for their pain, and for their beauty.  He will have his own cracks, filled with gold, and I will stroke them and wonder at them, and we will drink deeply from each other's cups.

I am not young.  I am not fresh and new.

But still, I think, something good, fresh, and new awaits, and it will be all the better because of this slow work I am doing.

Let it be so.  Amen.

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Tween Angst

Yesterday, on two separate, unrelated occasions, I hugged friends as they sobbed about their tween daughters.  I spent an hour in the dark calling out to one of those girls last night, shining my flashlight into bushes and saying, "Honey, please come home - are you there?" into the night: she had gotten mad at her parents and run out of the house, yelling "I'm running away!" and they had called me, frantic to get help, desperate, frightened.  We had just called 911 when  I found her a few blocks away, at a drugstore, where she had gone to get out of the freezing night.  After locating her, I called her mother, her father appeared, and it was impossible not to tear up when I saw her father's face: when he realized that his "baby" was safe, he could not stop sobbing from the relief and pain and fear of it.

The tween years are upon us.  Thank goodness not every day is like that - it was a double drama day, more than I knew how to handle, but what else can I do? - but I'm hearing more and more stories from more and more parents.  Good, loving parents who have their kids' best interests at heart: the kind of parents who read parenting books and serve vegetables and hug their kids - these aren't "problem" parents, or "problem" kids.  These are kids who get good grades and have good manners.

Last night when I hung up the phone, I called to Katherine, "I have to go look for your friend Eloise - she's run away and her parents want help finding her.  I've got my phone, so call if you need me, I'll be close by....and please put on your pajamas and start reading!" as I grabbed my coat, hat, and gloves and ran out the door.  Fifteen minutes later it occurred to me that I had left perhaps ten candles burning in the house - a favorite winter evening ritual - and I called Katherine to make sure that the house hadn't burned down and asked her to blow them out for me.  She was concerned about her friend, volunteered to help look, wasn't worried about being home alone on a dark night.

Only afterwards did I think how extraordinary that was - I left her with fifteen seconds notice, and she took it in stride, and was more concerned about her friend than herself.

I know that the tween years are upon us.  I have been told over, and over, and over, and over again by books, media, and other parents that "just you wait!" and that drama is inevitable.  I think I'm told some version of many times a day, actually.

And it's getting old.

I know that I'm a Pollyanna, and that my optimism is deep in my bones, and that I cannot prevent the natural course of things.  But I also deeply believe that Katherine and I are in a good place, that we're learning to navigate one another, that I can adapt to her changing needs (and still parent her, more mother than friend).

Last night, after the friend was found, the parents hugged, my coat hung back up, I climbed the ladder into Katherine's bunk bed to talk to her.  I wanted to lay down next to her, to hold her next to me like she was my toddler, but I know that she is long past such things and that I'd only make her uncomfortable, so I contented myself with sitting at her feet.  I asked her, "Are you and I okay?  Your friends are freaking out and really mad at their parents, and it's kind of scary to watch.  If you ran away, I would be so scared that I would shatter.  Would you talk to me instead?  Do you feel like I listen to you?  Are you okay?"  She assured me that she was well.  She told me that "we" are well.  She smiled, and she made jokes.  She let me hug her, squeezed me back.

I am tired of drama.  Cancer drama, divorce drama, career drama - I'm sick of it.  I absolutely have had my fill of drama, and I feel like I've been a good little girl and managed all the drama in my life relatively well, but I have to say, I am over it.  I do not have a ton of drama-capacity left, and I am ready for some smooth sailing right now.

I'm ready to ski with my daughter.  I'm ready for big pots of vegetarian chili and watching a TV show together.  I'm ready to hang out at the bookstore with her.  I'm ready to take her to movies that I don't really like.  I'm ready to go ice skating with her.  (Make no mistake - if I skate close to her she will sail away from me, laughing with her friends, but when she's hungry she'll come find me!)

Not EVERYONE has big tween and teen drama - some families manage it okay.  I know that it's going to take luck, in addition to good parenting and boundaries and reliance on Katherine's good nature.

But I'm starting to believe in grace.  I'm starting to really believe that the hard times are behind me for a while - perhaps a long while - and that we can do this, Katherine and I, and that it's going to get better, not worse.

Hubris?  Maybe.  If I fail at this, I'll be honest and admit my failings, I promise.

But I really, really think we're going to be okay.

Saturday, November 29, 2014

Little Moments

Today it snowed.

It doesn't snow often where I live, and when it does, the whole city is touched by the magic of it.  Though this was hardly more than a dusting, we ran to the attic to pull out snow clothes and got outside as quickly as we could.  When I was a little girl, it would usually only snow at night when it was coldest, and on more than one occasion my mother would wake me up in the middle of the night, hurry me into my snow clothes, and we'd go out in the yard to make snow angels before going back to bed, dreaming of the possibility of a day off school.

Today had that kind of magic.

Katherine and I walked together - only a couple of blocks - to the place where we get our Christmas tree.  We picked out the biggest silver fir that we could find, agreed upon its perfection, and then each grabbed an end to walk home with it, singing Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer.

We even wore Santa hats.

My daughter likes my company.  She thinks I'm crazy, but she likes me too, and to share this kind of small memory with her just makes me feel filled 'til bursting.

Once the tree was in the stand, I made peppermint cocoa with extra whipped cream before we started decorating it.  A friend stopped in, and even Bryan stopped in to pick up Katherine, but we kept decorating, with pumpkin pie and cocoa for everyone, with Christmas carols on the stereo.

I have to record it here, because it was all a bit dreamy.

I could have done without Bryan's presence, of course; my friend pointed out (after he and Katherine left) that he aimed a hundred small arrows at me; he is not always kind to me, but smiles at me as he insults me.  I refuse to engage with him - it's enough to have divorced him, he knows what I think! - and focus my attention on Katherine instead.  She beamed to have her parents both there as she placed the angel on top of the tree, and I smiled to be able to give her that gift.

The tree is filled with memories: it is not a themed tree, would not suit a department store.  It is covered in a lifetime's worth of ornaments: the ones that I bought with my college roommate, the ones I have received from dear friends through the years, the ones that I've given Katherine, and the ones that she has made me.  There's one to mark the year we bought the house (the house that I bought again when we were divorced), and ones marked "Baby's First Christmas" and ones for each pet.  There's a small bear in a graduation cap marking when I got my master's degree, and one from my book club, and one in glass with a pink ribbon on it that is a reminder that I lived.  The angel on top isn't special but Katherine loves her and so I haven't replaced her with a sophisticated silver star more to my liking, but she's a sassy angel and her skirt rides up a bit and she tilts herself to face whichever way she chooses (no matter how carefully we place her), and I like that about her.  An angel with a mind of her own is my kind of angel.

Tonight I opened our Thanksgiving Gratitude Journal and looked back through the years at what was written.  I started it in 2007 - lifetimes ago! - and each year I ask everyone at my table to write their gratitude in it, and I write in it as well.  Reading years gone by made me ache, but no matter the heartaches - surgeries, near deaths, the demise of my marriage, all wrapped in "I'm glad to be alive" and "I'm grateful for my strength and for those who support me" - this year my heart is filled to bursting.

I have a thousand small moments.  A daughter who laughs with me, even when she's laughing at me. 

Today I walked through the snow with my daughter, and we sang together, and our hearts were light. I set up my tree, so ordinary, so beautiful.  I lit candles alone in the glow, and wrote this here.

That is all I need.  The smallest of moments, but it's bigger than anything I can imagine.

I will hold this for as long as I can.

Happy holidays, everyone.

Sunday, November 23, 2014

Strange turns

Well, it finally happened.  The stars aligned, and at long last Gymnastics Dad invited me to dinner.

It happened spontaneously....but not really.  I kept my Saturday night open because I know it could happen the way it did.  There was a league gymnastics sleepover at the gym, and all the parents would be dropping off their kids at the same time.  I knew his daughter was attending, and I (ahem) didn't leave until I saw him.  We chatted, there was "What are you doing now?" and "Well, I'm starving!" and lo and behold, a dinner invitation.

We went to a beautiful little Italian place nearby - the kind with a hand written menu on a chalk board, candlelight, intimate little tables, and innovative dishes (mine had Brussels sprouts and black trumpet mushrooms, for starters).  We laughed a lot, and talked about things large and small (as we have been doing for months now).  I think he was actually a bit nervous - which was funny, because he's a hottie and about 6'4" and successful and smart and polished and charming - and he dropped things and had a bit of self deprecating humor etc. 

But he also had a twitchiness that I didn't like, I think brought on by Nicorette pills.  I don't like that he recently returned to a smoking habit that he's now trying to re-break.  I don't like that he's a reformed party boy with a craving for adrenaline.  He mentioned going to the clubs, and it was all I could do to prevent myself from sighing or laughing.  Nothing in his demeanor made me think that we'd find ourselves on a quiet beach watching the stars, or hiking through a forest, or camping by a lake.  He seemed like a city-boy through and through.

And just like that, the crush seems to have dissipated.  He's a nice guy, a catch for someone....many women will likely want what he has to offer.  I still find him intriguing - it's nice to have the attention of an attractive man, fun to have banter - but my gut says that he's not my guy, not my dream man.

This is so freeing that I can't even begin to tell you how good it feels.

He's got credentials - not only gorgeous eyes and a chiseled jaw and that height thing that makes me melt; not only a successful creative professional and a dad who is fully engaged with his daughter, a home cook, a reader and a musician for fun (but not money) - but he drives a fancy car and says things like, "when the mayor invited me to sit on the economic council..." very casually.  Yes, he's got credentials.

But I know now to listen to my gut.  There is nothing calm about him, and my frazzled nerves most definitely want calm.  He strikes me as a great big kid, bouncing off the walls and probably getting into trouble at school but making everyone (including the teacher) laugh in the process.  That's fun, and playful is attractive....but it's not "me."

I don't need a man.  Not even a successful, kind, hot man.

I want someone who makes my heart respond.  That is what I want, and I won't stop until I get it.  I want the whole enchilada, and I want to feel that rightness deep within me.  I want that in a man.  And if I don't get it, I will be okay.  A little sad, but utterly okay.

I have no idea if Gymnastics Dad and I will go out again.  I'm not even 100% sure that what we did was a date - it was a two hour meal, very enjoyable, but no physical contact (not even "accidental" brushing of hands or knees), and no "let's do this again" at the end of the night.  It went well.  I think he likes me, but he likely sees things in me that aren't a good fit for him, either.  (I'm more librarian than party girl, and I'm A-Okay with that.)  If he asked, I might say yes, because this has been a good experience, but I am making sure that I don't get sucked in to the credentials, and that I listen to my heart.

I'm waiting for what the universe hands me.  Professionally, personally, romantically, I have a new faith in the universe-that-some-call-God.  It's happening.  I can feel it.  I just need to clear the way for what comes next, not get bogged down in what is not true and right for me.  I'm listening to my gut in a way that I never have before, gaining new confidence that it knows what is true.

What a strange turn!  A date with my crush, and I feel so free.  I didn't see that coming, either.  I can't wait to see what happens next!

Saturday, November 22, 2014

Broken home?

We all know the statistics.

Single mothers are more likely to live in poverty.  Their children are more likely to grow up addicted or criminal or, well, I don't know, something awful.  Children from broken homes suffer greatly, do less well in school, have difficulty maintaining relationships, and all that.

I'm not going to look up the statistics to share them with you - if you want that depressing data, you can find it, but this time you have to find it on your own, because I don't want to talk about other people's broken homes, I want to talk about mine.

I am raising my child in a broken home.  Bryan moved out - at my "request" - in 2012.  It was heartbreaking for all of us, and I truly doubted my sanity in asking for a divorce, as unsure of my own ability to manage that fallout as I was.  Bryan spiraled even deeper into his depression.  Katherine got angry and picked up some scary OCD behaviors (hand washing and more).  I lay in bed awake, wondering how it ever got so bad and if I had the wherewithal to make it better. 

I don't want to sanitize all of that.  It was horrible.  We all had our dreams dashed, and I carried the weight of the broken promise ("to love, honor, and cherish, as long as we both shall live") with me heavily.  I value integrity above all, and reconciling my inability to breathe within my marriage with breaking that promise wasn't easy. 

And the financial parts - don't minimize that, either.  I thought I would lose my home, the only place that Katherine has ever lived.  I seriously doubted my ability to keep food on the table, and thought it was likely I'd never have a fun vacation or a beautiful dress ever again.

And my beautiful daughter - what was I doing to her?  How incredibly damaged was I making her?  It made me feel so ashamed that I could bring this into her life: how could I possibly do this to her, while simultaneously keeping my promise to her to give her the best life possible?

If you're asking yourself questions like that, floundering in the answers and feeling like you might drown, then please keep reading.


My home may be broken - clearly, a piece was shattered and the remnants swept away - but if this is broken, then I don't want to go back to being whole.  This cracked and imperfect life of mine is so good that I can barely believe my good fortune.

It's actually looking pretty Norman Rockwell around here lately:

I'm standing in the kitchen in high heels making a dinner from scratch.  (The heels are leftovers from work, not some bizarre 50s housewife getup; the scratch dinner is simple but fresh.)  Not just sometimes, most of the time.

Katherine is practicing for the choir concert - choir is her favorite class now.  She sings whenever she thinks I'm not listening, and my heart nearly explodes from the pure joy of  listening to her.

We're getting ready for family Thanksgiving.  Katherine is going to learn how to make her first pie (apple), I'm preparing several side dishes, and we're going to head to Bryan's brother's house.  Bryan and I will carpool (I'll offer to drive in my new car!).  There will be 15 or so of us squished around a too-small table, and on that table will not only be my roasted Brussels sprouts (yum!) but my ex-sister-in-law's jello salad (no thank you).  Cousins will run around, football will be on in the family room.  I'll pass around the Thanksgiving journal: every year, I have those at my Thanksgiving table fill it out with their Thanksgiving gratitude, and now that the journal is half filled we all have fun looking back at what we wrote in prior years.  Though Thanksgiving is not at my house this time, I've got a few fall things set out - a table runner, candles, gourds - that make my home feel like Thanksgiving is here.

It's all pretty darned near perfect.  And it doesn't feel broken at all. 

Actually, it feels a thousand times less broken than it did when I was married.


I have fought, scratched, and clawed my way into work that is meaningful to me.  I'm not in "the" job yet, but I'm well on my way, and in the meantime I'm happy enough with where I am.  I love my career path, I'm doing well in it, and I feel like landing on that career path is like winning the lottery.

Financially, I am nowhere near where I ought to be (a source of fear, often enough) and yet I feel so much more stable than I ever did in my marriage, and I have come so incredibly far.  I have enough.  I pay all of my bills, and Katherine is allowed some fun things, and there's enough left over for ski lessons if I don't go out to eat or go to plays this winter.  My pride at doing this after my years of being marked a dependent on income taxes is....extraordinary.  I hated being dependent, and I hated not being able to financially prioritize my values.  My ex was terrible with money: we were constantly running short even though he made way more than I do now.  I was constantly fearful that the checking account would be empty when I went to purchase something - it was ridiculous, given his income.  I never feel like that any more, and I LOVE being in charge of my own finances, and watching my life improve as a result of my managing those finances.

And beautiful daughter, with a soul made of light and kindness, the center of my days and the person that I care about most in the beautiful daughter is thriving.  Yes, her grades fell when we told her that we were getting divorced, and they were a tangible marker of my shame at what I had done to her.  But these days, she's getting the best grades of her life, and what's more, she's feeling proud of her schoolwork.  She approaches homework with a can-do attitude.  Her report cards tell me that she is doing well, but more importantly, her easy smiles tell me.  She's in love with her gymnastics and really blossoming with it; she's constantly inviting or being invited to sleepovers with good friends; at night I have to say "turn off your light right this minute, young lady!" and she says "please let me finish this chapter!"  Sometimes after school she calls me and says "Mom, my homework is done and I feel like baking: can I make brownies?" and she pulls out cookbooks, eggs, flour, and chocolate and gets to work.  She's a bit mad at me because I haven't figured out yet how she can volunteer at an animal shelter (time is still in short supply!).  We've been playing board games together when we have friends around.  We sing along with Taylor Swift (shhhhh, don't tell her, but she's getting tickets to the Taylor Swift concert under the Christmas tree!).  We're about to start ski lessons because my new car came with free season passes to the local ski hill, and though we'll be in hand me down equipment the two of us will be having fun on the bunny slopes (and we even talked some friends into joining us, so Katherine will have a bestie in her ski class).

I'm healthy.  Blissfully healthy - about to go on a run after I hit "publish" on this.  I have some writing projects that really speak to me.  My volunteer work brings light into my life.  My house is filled with good books.  Last night, friends came over and we started planning a camping trip for next summer (kids and dogs included).  I've got a crush that may not go anywhere but makes me feel lively.

I see my ex all the time.  I go to every gymnastics meet, regardless of whether it's my weekend, and sometimes we carpool.  He will spend the night in my guest room on Christmas Eve - after the party here that he will attend as my guest - so that on Christmas morning our beautiful daughter will get to share present-opening with both of her parents, gathered around the tree.  Bryan still drives me crazy, of course - getting divorced didn't turn him into my dream guy - but given that we don't share finances, or a bed, or household chores, or future dreams, or vacations, or leisure activities, or a closet, and given that his daily moods no longer have an influence over my life (no more walking on eggshells in my own house)....I don't mind that he drives me crazy.  Even when he's in the same room with me, he only drives me crazy from a distance.  He is not the fabric of my life, he's just a character in it.


I'd love a million dollars (or even an "appropriate" college fund and retirement fund).  I'd love my muffin top to go away.  I'd love to fall madly in love with the man who is worthy of that love and returns it.

But right now, today, this minute, I don't need to change a thing.  I am well.  My daughter is well.  My life is better than good - it feels extraordinary in its ordinary goodness, because I know how different it could be.

Broken?  Maybe.  But like those Japanese bowls, the cracks and brokenness in my life appear to be filled with gold.  I appreciate my new life in a way that I could not have appreciated my old one.  An outsider may judge: I could not save my marriage, and I raise my daughter in a broken home as a result.

But if this is broken, it is so much better than whole.

Tuesday, November 18, 2014


I have a crush.

And I love it.

Gymnastics Dad and I have been having long conversations at the meets and practices as we watch our daughters, and I am absolutely in the throes of my first crush since my divorce.

I've had flirtations.  I had a passionate "love" affair.  But I had not yet had a crush, and I had forgotten how positively delicious it is to have a crush.  I'd forgotten what it was like to have that early stage of catching eyes with someone across a room, trying not to look TOO excited, and watching them light up, too.  I'd forgotten what it was like to fall into like with someone.

With Luke, it was pretty chemical.  The man resembled a Dutch god or a soccer star, all lithe golden limbs and physical beauty, and well, I'm human, and I responded.  I think it was good for me to be with an uber-fit uber-attractive man after my relationship with Bryan.  Bryan and I didn't have great sexual chemistry; by the end of our relationship we had a negative sexual chemistry.  I was craving flames of passion, and with Luke, my body trembled in his presence.  It was exciting and (ahem) enjoyable, but it was more about being in a physical relationship than anything else, and I see that now.  He was a sweet talker, said the most marvelous things, but it was really just talk (whether it was the talk of a player or just a bumbling post-divorce guy is something I'll let fate judge) and of course ultimately it wasn't a good pairing.

I've had flirtations.  I've had too many dates.  But I hadn't had a crush....until now.

Gymnastics dad is tall and rugged in a George Clooney way; I'm definitely drawn to him physically (oh yes!).  But he's not chiseled perfection in the way of Luke; he's more human.  And his humanity is what draws me, somehow.

I do not tremble around Gymnastics Dad.  As a matter of fact, I feel animated, and sharper somehow.  It's playful and quick, and weaves in and out of silliness and lightness, pausing in moments of real depth.  We've talked about Taylor Swift, feminism, artistic process, books, parenting, our love for our daughters, our exes (lightly on that one), friendships, the holidays.  There is smiling and teasing on both sides, and then these dips into pieces of meaning - little glimpses at the person beneath the smile.  We've touched on religion and politics (we agree), volunteerism (he is one of the few single men I've met outside of work who not only values it but lives that value!).

The time passes quickly when I'm talking to him, and I walk away feeling light every time we talk.

He has my phone number now - but in a contrived way, a volunteer project we might both do, something to follow up on, not a date.  He has not yet used my phone number.  Maybe he will (I actually think he will!), maybe he won't.

But the difference between 45 year old Pollyanna and the Pollyanna's that came before is that I don't need him to call.  Sure, I'd be delighted if he did, but I don't need it.  I'm busy living my life, loving it, filling my hours with fun and activities, planning for the holidays, working my tail off.  If he calls, he calls, and I would certainly say yes to a date.  But if he doesn't?  All is still well!  It is not a reflection of who I am if he doesn't call.  Maybe he has a secret girlfriend, maybe he's not into dating, or maybe he's not into me "like that" and it's all okay.  Maybe he doesn't have the nerve to ask me out even if he does like me (and that would be a sure sign that we should not be together, because I need a strong man, and of that I am absolutely certain).

This crush is all about me feeling light and happy: nothing more, nothing less.  In some ways, it's not even about him (yet), it's only about me allowing myself to feel attracted to someone, to be playful, to indulge in little fantasies.  Whether or not he reciprocates, or whether or not it goes anywhere, it's okay, because I'm having fun with it in the here and now, no need to worry about anything that happens next.

Although I did have quite a little fantasy when a Groupon for a romantic getaway came into my email this morning.  I do wonder what he looks like with bedhead on hotel sheets......

Happy Tuesday, everyone.  I hope you've got a little flirtation in your life, too, because it's awfully fun.  Why didn't I do this sooner?!

Monday, November 10, 2014

Another step on the path

Every day, I am becoming more and more myself.

Who was I, if I was not myself?  I was certainly out there living my life, doing things, having friends, being a mom, volunteering, keeping a house, thinking Deep Thoughts....but I was not myself.

Not that long ago, my life felt very, very small.  No matter what I did, I did not know how to please my husband.  My health was in constant jeopardy, and spinning out of control (thank you breast cancer, and the barbaric treatments that we undergo when diagnosed because more sophisticated treatments aren't's still mostly slash, burn, and poison).  My finances were dismal.  Everything felt so precarious, so much so that it was hard to dream.

Bit by bit, I've lost some of those old shadows that blocked my light, and bit by bit, as the light has hit different parts of me, I've felt more illuminated.  More myself.

Finding the courage to ask for a divorce.
Finding a job that paid the bills.
Taking Katherine on an airplane.
Becoming more active - hiking, running, snowshoeing.
Managing my house, including little upgrades and maintenance.
Dating (and realizing that I was attractive enough in every sense to be desirable).
Finding a career again - so different than a job, so much better.
Finding success at that career.

Little things, big things, but they've all added up.

When I bought my new car, my dad said, "You just don't know where you'll be in a few years, and if you'll even want this car any more," and I thought "hhhmmmm I think it suits my lifestyle, so even if I got mega-raises I don't think I'd invest more than this in a car...." but my dad said, "I mean, you could get married and then you'd have more money, sharing a household."

Dad and I are not on the same page with that one.

Right now, when I think of improving my life, I think a lot about career, and the strides I've made, and the new strides I must take.  I think about travel.  I think about things I'd like to do - skiing, beachcombing, taking an art class for fun, throwing a Christmas party, biking through spring tulips, writing a book, finishing an essay I am playing with.  I don't really think about dating.

Dating sounds good in theory.  I mean, in theory, who doesn't want love, romance, sex?  Who wouldn't like to share the Sunday New York Times over good coffee and croissants, or go for a waterfront run, or find new hikes, or SIFF films, or dance at concerts with a beloved?  And it'd be GREAT to have somebody to do the dishes if I cooked, or to swing by the cleaner's on the way home from work.

But in practice, it sounds like I would have to let someone in to the new life I've created for myself, and share my physical space.  (My house has gotten more "me" by the minute.  Inexpensive art, pictures in faux-silver frames, antiques.  And - one of my quirks - empty kitchen counters, no clutter at all.  I LOVE my empty kitchen counters, and the idea of someone leaving jars and toasters and knick-knacks and cereal boxes on them makes me very, very unhappy.)  At the end of the day, I love my big bed with the toile sheets and way too many throw pillows.  (What man likes toile?  Or, what straight man, anyway?)

And there's Katherine.  We do so well together, and we've found ways to make it work, and we're laughing so much.  This weekend we went to the friend's cabin with my friend and Tessa's friend, and the four of us played board games and were silly and it was so innocent and charming and goofy and I wouldn't have changed a thing.  There wasn't room for romance in that cabin - in part because the car was full, the cabin was full, and I loved the girls' weekend parts, where my daughter looked so relaxed and happy to be with me, and I don't know where a romantic partner's energy would have fit in there.  We've got our household routines down, from Sunday night folding and TV watching, to the frenetic weekdays-gymnastics schedule.  There are so many many girls in PJs giggling.  We eat what we like eating (and lately, that means this eggplant dip that is to die for, that we sometimes eat for dinner, no matter how weird that is - it's healthy and delicious and we like it so who could judge? but who else would want to eat that?).

All of it seems so silly.  But Katherine is nearly twelve, and she's growing up so fast, and I just don't feel like accommodating anyone else's schedule, no matter what other niceties they offer.  And I'm career focused when I'm not focused on her, so those are good excuses.

But the reality is still that I'm afraid.

I'm afraid that letting someone in would upset all of that.  I'm watching a friend fall in love right now, with a guy who seems fantastic and loves her back, and her daughter - Katherine's friend - is falling apart over it.  It is not for the faint of heart to witness: the daughter is clearly distraught, and taking it out on her mother the way that only a hormonal tween can do.

And more than my fears for Katherine - because I think I could introduce someone slowly, meet Katherine's needs, bring more love to her life - I fear for myself.

I fear that I would, once again, give up all that I hold dear for someone who doesn't value me.  I'd lose control of my finances, my career, my parenting.  I'd put someone else's emotional needs before my own.  I'd agree to live in a way that didn't make sense to me, that didn't map to my values.  I'd become small again, and I'd hide my light because it was too bright and gaudy.

I'm somewhat amused by these thoughts, because a wiser part of me knows that deep love makes a person grow, not shrink.  Because the kind of love I dream of would make my light even brighter, and would never ask me to dim myself.  Because the kind of man I would love, would be patient and kind, not only to me, but to my daughter, and he would jump right in on game night and make us laugh with his antics, and he wouldn't mind at all if we did girls' weekend sometimes without him.  He'd want to allow me to be me, because he wouldn't want a shrunken woman, he'd want the fullness of me.  All of me.  And it could be beautiful, magical, magnificent.

One day, I want the big, glowing, amazing white-light love.  I really do.

But it's a step on the path to acknowledge that I'm not ready, that I'm closed to it, that I fear it.  I do believe that the truth will set us free, and this is my truth.

So, I keep going.  Working.  Mothering.  Signing up for ski lessons.  Planning girls' weekends.  Caring for my house.  Getting ready for the holidays.  Enjoying my life.  Counting my blessings.

But I do hope that I can free myself of these fears enough to let someone in someday.  One step at a time, though, and I'm content to be where I am right now, knowing that I'm always moving forward.  One little baby step at a time.

Thursday, October 30, 2014

More than enough

Like many women, I struggle to believe that I am "enough."  My marriage and divorce did not help matters.  I spent too many years feeling small and like my wants and needs didn't matter, and such things do not change overnight.

They don't change instantly because of divorce, either, it seems.

Yesterday I finally dealt with the fact that my old Subaru was, in fact, too old.  The engine light was on almost all the time, and the brake light kept coming on, and the whole thing was one thread away from totally unraveling.  Every time I got in it I wondered if I'd end the day in a tow truck, and I avoided taking other people (including Katherine's friends) in it.  I was constantly asking someone else to drive, just in case.

I looked at used cars, of course.  But Subarus hold their value really well, and interest rates on new cars are so low, that I found myself looking at a new car.

The economy version, of course.

But then for just a little more, I could get a moonroof.  Better speakers.  All weather package.

I asked my dad if he would cosign for me if I needed it.  My work history is too new, my income too small, my mortgage too large, and I just wasn't sure what would happen with financing.  Dad said yes, and with my heart in my chest, I signed all the papers to see if I'd qualify.

I qualified.  Not only that, my credit was in the "excellent" category, the one with no questions, the one that said I could get what I wanted.  I've managed my slim finances well.

So, last night, I drove off the new car lot in a shiny car that I paid for (and will keep paying for!).

My choice in exterior color.  (Dad says it's the color of pavement so it's not safe.  I like it a lot.  I said "This is my choice.")
My choice in interior color.
My choice in upgrades.  (Yes, I do want heated seats, even though they're frivolous.  Ditto on the moonroof.)


I am allowed to have some upgrades.

I am worth more than a beat up junker car.

I get to choose what *I* like.

I didn't know how good that would feel until I got to make those choices for myself, and earn the right to keep them.  I didn't know how small I felt, until a car dealership looked at me like, "Well, of course you can!"

I'm bigger than my car, and I'm no more important today in my shiny silver metallic ice car than I was in my dark (dated) green car.

But I'm walking a little taller, aware that *I* get to choose.  That my opinion carries weight.  That I don't need to settle, I don't need seconds.

I am enough.

I am surprised that I needed the lesson, but some old lessons are hard to unlearn.  Today, I'm unlearning the old "I'm not enough".

I am enough.

And YOU are enough, too.

Saturday, October 25, 2014

Bossy Women

Lately, I find myself being rather bossy.

I use the word intentionally: it's been in the media a fair amount, and I'm finding that as I find my professional stride and start really growing wings and flying (ohhhh that's a silly mix of metaphors, but picture a Pegasus running along the ground and launching into the sky, and maybe it works?!), I'm getting feedback that boils down to the fact that I'm being bossy.

My boss hired me to change things at the organization.  I am, first and foremost, supposed to find them more money.  Secondly, I'm supposed to bring in more people - potential donors - to the organization.  I'm supposed to find higher quality sponsors.  I'm supposed to upgrade our events.  Bigger, better, and more is the order of the day, and I'm fine with that: it's my job description, and I know what has to happen to make that work.

But every time I said, "Okay, I think we need to do (this)" and suggest a change from the way it has been done before, my boss resists.  If I lay out a case for the change, he resists.  If I ask questions, he resists.  Sometimes he tells me to stop asking questions because everything is fine the way it is.  He has raised his voice to me and said, "We did just fine before you were here, we're a professional organization, and some things are better left alone!" before stomping out of my office.

Our big event was last weekend, and I killed it.  Everything that was my responsibility went incredibly well.  I upped attendance by 21% and revenue by 28%.  Over and over I heard that this was by far the best event that this organization has ever thrown.  The board is absolutely in love with me, and told me that I could have whatever I wanted to grow it to the next level.

My boss has been rude and sullen about it, and I think it's an ego thing.  This is "his" organization, and he has received all of the praise up until now.  Not only that, he majorly screwed up several things on his end that were nearly dealbreakers at the event, and I spent the whole night fixing his problems.  (I did not sit at the table with my friends who had paid to attend the event, and fought his fires instead.)  I spent the last week fixing those problems.  I'm not done.

Monday, I had to say, "Look - for months I've been hearing "Why don't you trust us?" and "We did fine before you got here" and "Stop trying to change things!" and "STOP ASKING SO MANY QUESTIONS!" and you've told me that it's all under control.  It is not under control, and it came to me to fix things.  You gave me all of the responsibility without the control, and I will not work like that any more.  If you are unwilling to change, I can not work here.  If you want to do things the way you've always done things, I can not grow your revenue, because I'll get the same results you've always gotten.  Everything I did, I did above and beyond.  I grew you more than you knew was possible, and I've proven myself.  So if you want me to stay, now you have to change."

I got a lot of apologies - how could he argue when I'd just blown things away?  But my work environment is tense.

And I think I've earned myself the label of "Bossy" as a result of these conversations.

I am not the little lady.  I am not a wilting flower looking for a man to rescue me.  I know what I'm doing, and I do it well.  I've had some good ideas, and I put in some 60-80 hour weeks to implement those ideas and make them succeed.  Hard work, good intuition, and professional knowledge, combined with good interpersonal skills with donors and sponsors, make me good at what I do.  When I say, "Here's a problem and here's a solution to that problem", telling me to stop trying to change things is a really bad idea.  Unless, of course, the organization wants to stay exactly where it is, in which case it shouldn't have paid me to come along and grow it.

So, my boss thinks I'm bossy.

I think that when he hired me, he thought that I was less than I am.  My stay at home mom years, coupled with my sad cancer story, might have made me seem weaker and smaller than I really am.  Perhaps he liked that part of my tale.  Perhaps he thought that he was hiring a yes-girl.  I can't tell - I am not a mind reader, but it does not appear that he likes strong women, or substantiated opinions.

Would I receive the same treatment if I was a man?

Would he ask me to type up his letters - not a word of lie - or book things on his calendar - no kidding - if I was a man?

I don't think so.

I think I'm dealing with an old fashioned man.  The Boss is the Boss, no matter what, no matter if he's wrong.  Ladies should not speak up.  There are men's jobs, and there are women's jobs.

But this lady - and I am a lady all the way, from my red lipstick to my high heels, to my career dresses that cover lacy underthings - is doing a man's job.  This lady is skyrocketing this organization, and expects a man's kudos.  This lady expects to be treated as if my ideas are something more than "cute."

This lady was hired to a do "a man's work", and I'm killing it.

This lady has been diplomatic, polite, and professional, and the consequence for that "appropriate" behavior was that I was steamrolled.  I worked twice as much as anyone at the organization, accomplished at least twice as much, and was rewarded for it with criticism and an admonition to be quiet, stop asking questions.

Irony: I was never given the budget.  I was not allowed to select the vendors - I was told "this is who we use, so just call them and set it up."  When I announced our record breaking revenue, the only comment I got was "That's nice, but it doesn't really matter until we account for expenses."  The expenses that I had nothing to do with, so don't try to pass that off on me.  If you want me to manage expenses, then you need to give me some control over them, and not give me blame for them AFTER the event.

So.  I'm officially one of the Bossy Women that the media has been talking about.  I am pushing back.  I am saying, "NO."  I risked it all and said, "I can't work under these circumstances," and because there was so much logic (not hysteria, not emotion, not moodiness) in what I said, they said, "Okay."

But it sucks.

It's horrible to pull of several miracles per week, and be treated like an obstacle.

It's horrible to treat others professionally, and not be treated professionally in return.

It's horrible to be hired to do a job, and then not given all the tools to do that job.

It's horrible to be shushed.

It's horrible to be treated as less than I am.

Nobody has ever accused me of being a bitch.  Mostly, I'm told that I'm "too" nice.  Friends of both genders have counseled me to take better care of myself, to stop giving until I bleed.

I like being nice.  I believe in compassion, integrity, kindness.  That is how I want to live.

But until further notice, I'm a Bossy Woman.

I am good at what I do, and I need to keep my career going.  I do not have patience left for people who stand in their own way and belittle me in the process. 

I won't be steamrolled any more, so now I'm Bossy.  I'd prefer to just be treated like a smart person who does her job well and considers others in the process, but perhaps because my organization is dysfunctional or perhaps because it's a man's world or perhaps because of both, I have to fight harder to be heard, and my boss looks at me like I might go off at any moment, now that I've spoken up (and proven that I'm right by the work that I've done).

I never wanted to be bossy.  It doesn't suit me.  Strong, capable, flexible, intelligent, open, hard working - those are labels I'd like to own.  I am a good leader.  But if I need to be bossy, well, so be it.


I'd like to hear from other Bossy Women.  How did you find yourself in that role?  How do you fight for what is right and still maintain relationships with those who, for their own egos or other senseless reasons, would prefer that you stay quiet?

Six more months before I think it's appropriate to start looking for a new job.  I will give it my all until the day I walk out the door, and I will be focused, and I will try to do my absolute best for this little organization before I leave....but I hope that I can find a way to get rid of the bitterness that I now feel.

Bossy women, please contact me!  I want to hear your stories, and I want to give you my empathy.  Stay strong! xoxo

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Crunch time

I'm about to ramble, so you've been warned.  I have missed coming here, and since this is my therapy I was a bit overdue.

My big work event is in a few days, and we're in the major crunch of getting it going.  I have responded in typical fashion, working twelve hour days, coming in on the weekend, having dreams about work....and getting sick.  My lungs crackle, my throat is full of glass, I'm so tired I could cry, but I keep putting in the hours.  Not only am I putting in the hours, it's like I'm on speed, trying to get things done as fast as possible, only slowing down when I'm talking to another human because otherwise they can't keep up.

This is good: I'm getting my work done.  I know that my work is good.  This event is going to be a success in great part because of the work I've put into it.  I'm proud of myself.

This is bad: I'm totally overdoing it, I should be in bed with hot tea, fresh sheets, and Netflix, but instead I'm driving myself to the edge, coming home, and collapsing, leaving Katherine to fend for herself while I call from the sofa, "I'm so sorry, honey, it's just a few more days, thank you for being patient" and she fetches me drinks.  I am not eating - skipping lunches and God-knows-what for dinner - and I'm a wreck. 

My boss's response: to be very sharp with me, to point out every little flaw ("What?  You haven't done that yet?" and when I say, "I am working on X, Y, and Z and I know that I need to work on A, B, and C next but I can't do it all at once, so if you'd like me to drop either X, Y, or Z while I deal with this, I'm okay with that," and then he says "Well, just get it all done, and hurry.  I'm going out to lunch, and then I'm getting a haircut, so I'll be back at 3pm," and then I skip lunch to get it done.)  I actually asked my boss into my office last week, closed the door, and said, "Are you angry with me, or have I done something wrong that I need to work on?" because frankly I think I'm deserving high praise right now for pulling off multiple miracles a day in a professional way, and all he does is point out the problems (which are often minute in nature but make him VERY sharp with me).  He was surprised and said, "No, everything is fine!" and said a couple of nice things, and then two hours later it was business as usual.  My boss is absolutely unsympathetic about me being sick (I actually think he's annoyed) and told me that unless I have Ebola I'd better come in.  (Actual quote.)

My main colleague's response: to be very emotional and to run around basically crying "the sky is falling! the sky is falling!"   When I ask her questions about what she needs to get through, what work needs to be done, how I need to prioritize, she says, "Never mind that we just need to get it done!" and repeats "The sky is falling!"

This is our biggest fundraiser of the year.  So far, we have a record number of people registered to attend.  The meal, decorations, and entertainment are all taken care of.  We have more items up for bid than ever before - the silent is bigger than ever, and we had a hard time choosing what to put in the live, and our system tells us that the total dollar value of these items is higher than ever before.  We have new sponsors, and more money from sponsors than ever before.  At least three new potential sponsors for next year are attending the event, and one of our biggest sponsors - a national company - is sending several VPs because they have a special interest in us (and they've never come to this event before).  I am a brand new development director, and I know I don't know everything, but damn, that sounds pretty damned good to me.  More people, more money....that is EXACTLY the goal, and so what am I missing?!

My boss keeps saying, "We're behind!  We're behind!" and I say "What deadline are we behind on?" and he can't answer and just says "We're behind last year!" and I say, "Well, not according to what I have in the system, why don't you take a look, because we're ahead and we're not even done..." and he says "I don't have time for that we just need to get this done!"

OOOOOOOOooooooooooooooohhhhhhhhhhhhhhh it felt good to vent that.  Thank you for listening.

So.  It's crunch time, and all of these personalities are coming out.  I am the enabler, and when others are rude to me or have their own breakdowns, I enable that by picking up the slack and taking it on at my own detriment.

I'm going to have to work on that.

Right now, I just need to survive this event, and I need to do it in style.  I need all of the odds and ends to be completed, and I need to manage the volunteers the day of the event, and then I need to slip away and put on a cocktail dress and look fresh and attractive yet professional, and I need to attend the event and talk to the sponsors and the big donors and act like I'm having a wonderful time and spend money I don't have on items I don't need to support this organization (WHAT?!).

On Sunday, this will be over.  I will either get praise, or I won't.  There will either be a work celebration, or there will be grumbling.  But I'm not going to get sucked in.

I have been busting my rear end, and *I* know I'm doing a good job.

I also believe that I never, ever, ever want to throw an auction ever again, or certainly not in this manner.  It's chaotic and frustrating and filled with other people's emotions, and while I realize that it's hard work, I want it to be more professional in my professional life.  Development Job 2.0 will meet those goals.

But until then, wish me luck, because my crackly lungs and I are off to work to face the mess, and it's another 12 hour day.

Sunday, October 5, 2014

Time and the Single Working Parent

I'm exhausted.

Not "oh I didn't want to get up this morning because I wanted to hit snooze" exhausted.  Not "wow I sure am busy!" exhausted.  And not "I'd love to see you but I'm busy this week, so how about next week?" exhausted.

This is, "No matter what I do and how fast I go, I can't seem to catch my breath" exhausted.  This is "I want to live my best life, but no matter how fast I go, I can't seem to get it all done."

Last weekend Katherine and I took off for the islands and did our only camping trip of the summer (which I realize was actually in fall).  I was supposed to have the day off work - scheduled ages ago - but something important came up, so I ended up scrambling to go to work in the morning, working a good chunk of the day, throwing things in the car, and rushing not to be late to pick her up at school.  We set up our tent in the dark and went to bed as soon as we arrived at the camping spot, exhausted and trying to be quiet so as not to disturb the other campers who arrived at a more sane time of day.  We had a lovely day on Saturday - watching orca whales! - but Sunday was another mad scramble, stopping at the grocery store on the way home from camping, staying up late to unload all of the camping equipment and dry out the rain fly and such, and get ready for the week.  I ran the laundry, but it never made it out of the laundry baskets this week.  Saturday was blissful, but it came at a cost, because the extra work of Friday and Sunday made me so tired that I could barely cope all this week.

This is how it is for me.  Either I sorta kinda stay caught up, but all I do is work and chores, or I allow myself to have some fun but that pushes the chores into the nighttime or  means that they don't get done.  I usually pay bills and do paperwork on the weekends, but this week the stack of mail grew taller and taller, on top of last week's, and spilled onto the floor a couple of times.  I try to clean the house every weekend, but being gone, the tumbleweeds of dog hair (others have dust bunnies, but with my dog we call them dust buffaloes) are blowing around the house.

But the chores are only a symptom of the real problem.  I'm impossibly tired, and on the edge of tears before I go to bed most nights.  I can't get it all done.  And the cost of pursuing the life that I want - one filled with orca whales and camping trips, for example - is that I have to squeeze out other activities to do those life-affirming activities, but those chores need to get done, and so I sleep less and less, and the fatigue threatens to make me non-functional.


When I read articles about divorce (and I do), many times people talk about wanting to liberate themselves to be their best self; or they talk about leading an authentic life; or they talk about how their partners didn't support their dreams.  They talk about how, in divorce, they hope to find true happiness, unburdened as they are from the negativity of their marriages.

This is not a bad idea.  Divorce is a horrible process, no matter how well it's done (and my observation is that very few people do divorce well), and nobody should go into it without the belief that their lives will be infinitely better as a result of the divorce.  Why divorce otherwise?

But something few people talk about is that it is really, really hard to pursue your best life.  It's difficult when your partner is unsupportive or worse, that's true.  I know that I was struggling to stay afloat in my marriage, and I did not know how to pursue my best life in that environment; I knew that my marriage made me feel like I couldn't breathe, and I needed oxygen to stay alive.  But what we don't talk about as much is that it can be just as hard to pursue our dreams after divorce as it is during a toxic marriage.

Yes, you heard that properly.  PollyAnna, the optimist, is advising caution.  PollyAnna, the optimist, is pointing out some rather unpleasant truths.  Divorce does not solve all of your problems, and it creates some new ones.

Bear with me, readers.  I won't leave you hanging, and I won't stay in this negative space, but I'd like you to join me in this hard reality for a little bit.


I have more dreams than I can count: I am good at locating my dreams and pursuing them.  In general, I'm a really happy person, filled with joie de vivre.  All of that is true.

But the not-so-big-secret is that I find myself struggling, often, in this new life of mine.

I am actively chasing my career right now.  I must.  I'm 45 years old and I took a ten year nap (to quote Meg Wolitzer's idea).  I am never, ever going to be able to retire, and I have enough money to put my daughter through less than a year of college, and if my car breaks down - as I think it might - I'm screwed.  Financially, I need to be really focused on my job - I'm at the bottom of the pay scale for my profession, and I need to climb the ladder.  PERSONALLY, I need to focus on my job, too.  I'm a smart lady and I don't belong at the bottom of anything, and I need to have the personal satisfaction of working my way to the place I wish to be.

Overtime.  Work stress.  More and more responsibilities.  And you know who is supporting that?  Nobody.  Do you know who is picking up extra childcare, helping with chores, making more meals?  Nobody.  Do you know who I talk to about how to budget for the new car, whether to replace the rain gutter or the garage scaffolding first?  Nobody. 

When I come home each day, there is nobody to balance this out with.  The morning's dishes are still in the sink, the wash still needs to be transferred to the dryer, the "check engine" light is still on.  Katherine still has the question about math problem number 8c, the dog still hasn't been walked, the flu shot still hasn't been scheduled, the bills didn't magically pay themselves, and dinner hasn't appeared on the table.  While I'm making dinner, nobody is checking the bank balance.  While I'm checking the bank balance, nobody is helping Katherine with problem 8c.  While I mow the lawn, the groceries aren't appearing in the refrigerator.

When I was married, it was dysfunctional and awful.  I wouldn't ever want to go back.  But I will say this: though being in a toxic marriage was exhausting, there was someone there to share all of that with.  He didn't manage it well, and he certainly didn't pull his whole share (mine was not a 50/50 marriage by ANYONE's analysis), but it turns out that 10% help would make a big difference. 

I can do the lion's share, but it's hard to do 100%.

My ex has our daughter a little bit.  On Wednesdays, I work late, because he's got her until 8pm.  This means I can stay at the office (getting less far behind), and then walk in the door at the same time Katherine returns home.  This is not exactly relaxing.  This is my weekend without Katherine, and that means that I had time to go in to the office yesterday before going to her gymnastics meet to see her compete (her dad took her, I met them there).  My ex's time with our daughter allows me to stay afloat, but it's not enough that I can get ahead.

I'm getting it done.  There may be dust buffaloes and such, but I'm doing it.  But there are days, weeks, and months where I feel like what I'm doing is surviving, not thriving.  Sometimes this fills me with pain - I so desperately want to live my best life, and instead I feel like I'm scrambling to write memos and just stay fed with clean clothes on.

And I want to thrive.

A short list of some of my dreams:

- Run a marathon (which involves running 4x/week, including a several hour run on weekends, and doing yoga and/or weights on another day; I am barely working out twice a week right now and my fitness has fallen and my weight has gone up as a result)
- Write a book (I started it, I know what I want to do, but it sits waiting for me)
- Travel (time? money?)
- Volunteer (I love saving the world, and I have a favorite cause that I work with)
- Be an AMAZING mom, the kind who is patient and kind and a good teacher and knows how to teach discipline but also to be playful and model a joyful life
- Find time to date in order to find the partner I dream about (I haven't forgotten my dream of the man on the sailboat...)
- Be a rock star in my career
- Care for my home to create a beautiful environment to live in, a place of comfort and ease

....and I want to have time to just stop and enjoy, too.  I love to wander the farmer's market, go beach combing, curl up with tea on the sofa and read books, meet a friend for a glass of wine, go to the movies or live theater.  And I want to be a good friend, the kind who brings soup when you're sick
and makes time to celebrate your birthday with you.  And a good family member, too. 

And I'd like to do it all while being stylish, and eating healthy home made meals that are organic and locally sourced.  I'd like my dog to be well exercised, I'd like to be caught up at the doctor, the dentist, and the vet.  I'd like my gutters to be clean, my garden to be weed free.  I'd like to take up kayaking and skiing.

If I haven't lost you in that list of minutia, perhaps you're as exhausted as I am reading all of that.  How on earth does one fit it all in?

It's impossible.  And it's even more impossible without some support at home.

There are so many days when I don't work out, or write, or volunteer, or plan travel.  There are so many days when the house is dusty and the laundry is in a basket at the end of my bed, not neatly put away, and I haven't talked to a friend in a week because I'm just going between work and making dinner and checking homework and gymnastics and there isn't a minute left.


I know that everyone struggles to lead their best lives.  The self-help section is booming with books telling us how to do better.  We hear it in the background of coffee shops and people discuss what they're doing and why it is or isn't working.  Magazines are filled with articles about it.

The reality is, this world is made for families with two parents, and if you're a single parent, you need to do the work of two people.  If you have a divorce where you are with your child most of the time, as I do (a privilege that I would not change for all the money and time in the world, by the way: I LOVE that Katherine is my daughter, and I will never understand why Bryan took less than 50/50, and I'm grateful that his foolishness allows me to fully raise the daughter that I adore), and you aren't independently wealthy, you're going to struggle as I do.  I'd love to call the gardener, house cleaner, personal shopper, and handyman....but it's not going to happen, as those things require money.  There is no yard service.  When I bring my car to get worked on, I don't know how to pay the mechanic, let alone rent another car in the interim.  What I end up doing is packing up Katherine and her homework and my laptop, and spending part of a Saturday afternoon at the auto-shop, doing homework and work as the car is worked on.  Not exactly the stuff of thriving.

If you're planning on being a single parent, you would be wise to be aware of all of this.  You may envision your new boyfriend and candlelit dinners, but you'd better envision some of this, too, because it's a big part of the reality as well.


And yet.

And yet, I'm trying.

And yet, I'm trying, and I won't give up.

I believe that the life I want is still waiting for me, and that every day I'm getting closer.

Having awoken from my ten year nap of being a cancer-patient-stay-at-home-mom-in-a-toxic-marriage, I have energized my career and I'm making it happen.  I'm in the busy season at work, and I'm doing a good job.  I am not on track to run a marathon any more, or even a half marathon, but I meet a friend at 5:15am twice a week to work out, and I try to do a couple more workouts on my own.  I DID go see the whales, and they were gorgeous and life affirming.  My garden is a wreck, but I do make healthy home made meals most days.  Katherine is a wonder of light and love, and we get along really well, and no matter how tired I am, I make time to help her with her homework.  As I write this the laundry is running.  And by the time Katherine gets home tonight, the fridge will be refilled for the week, the dust buffaloes will be vacuumed.  I got a bit caught up at work yesterday, and might go again today to get more ahead.

And there is a cute dad at gymnastics who has been gently flirting with me, so maybe one of these days I'll even get a candlelight dinner again.

If you're considering divorce because you can't breathe in your marriage, I want to tell you that the fresh air from leaving that toxicity is so beautiful and healing that it can make you weep from gratitude.  If your partner is emotionally or physically abusive, physical, manipulative, selfish, or lacking in integrity, and you've done what you can to try to change that but it's not working, I send you prayers of love and light and healing and hope, because it wasn't that long ago that I was suffering through those feelings, too.

If you feel unsatisfied in your marriage, like there is more to life, and your partner is boring you, I suggest you take a long, hard look at your life before you make a change.  Being a single parent is not for sissies.  Perhaps you are wiser and luckier than I am, and you'll leave a boring marriage and replace it with a sparkling life, perhaps with a handsome, romantic, sexy partner who is a great cook as well as being a fabulous role model for your children AND independently wealthy...but that has not been my experience.

Being a single mom takes more energy than I might have dreamed possible.  Putting Katherine's needs first - it doesn't matter how tired or busy at work I am, we have a commitment to be at gymnastics, and she needs to eat healthy food, and if she needs help with homework then I need to pull up a chair and help her - isn't easy, and there isn't a back-up plan.  Managing the work of a house, and of a life, without a partner is not easy.  I often wish that I could clone myself to be in two places.....I need to work late, but I need to be home to care for child and home.  And pursuing my dreams is sometimes harder because of that.


Yes, I'm exhausted.  Deeply exhausted.

But I'm still going, and I'm doing my best, and some days, I think I make progress.

The difference between me and the not-so-PollyAnna-ish folks out there is that I'm not going to give up.  I'm willing to push myself just a bit harder.  I will not tune out of my dreams and binge-watch Netflix (well, not that often, anyway!) because I simply will not give up.  I know that it's impossible to get it all done, and that I have little chance of qualifying for the Boston Marathon will getting major promotions in my career while publishing my book while managing my garden while camping every weekend in the summer and skiing every weekend in the winter while falling in love and having the grand romance of my dreams while traveling the world while being the best mom in the world while having a Martha Stewart style house and eating only locally sourced organic home made meals.  I know that.

And yet, I keep putting one foot in front of the other, doing better some days than others.

Dear reader, this is what I encourage you to do.  If you are contemplating divorce, or you are a single parent, and you're struggling to stay afloat and to keep the exhaustion at bay, just don't stop.  Fight hard for what you want.  I know that very rarely do the magical unicorns appear, but rainbows do show up every now and then, and there are four leaf clovers every so often.  If you dream of whales, go where the whales are.

Life isn't easy, and I think I know that better than some (and less than others).  But it IS rich with possibility, and that's what we're fighting for.  I think that gymnastics dad is going to ask me out, and I have a good feeling about it....but if he doesn't, it's okay.  I think my career is really taking off, and this time next year could be very different....but if it takes longer than that, it's okay.  I think I'll get the laundry done and the groceries purchased and my dog walked before Katherine comes back tonight, but if I don't, that's okay.  I'm on the committee for the nonprofit I volunteer for, and I'm going to help them.  I will set my alarm for 4:30am Monday so that I can get in a run.  Next weekend, I'm going to do a beautiful hike.  There are never, ever enough hours in the day.

I'm working on these dreams of mine...and it's worth it. 

Even with the exhaustion.