Thankful.

November 28, 2012 § Leave a comment

Two days ago marked five and half years since my first date with my husband. We have been on such an incredible, vexing, heartbreaking, life-changing journey in that short time.

I caught myself in a moment on Monday. Somehow, this is the first time in the span of that journey that I feel like we are on solid footing. Things with the kids are relatively stable, we live where we want to live, we are in a place where we can start to have real plans and real dreams and real goals.

The skids came out for Thanksgiving and I could weep with joy (and have, in fact) at the success of the visit. There was no testing of boundaries, no struggles with learning how to be in eachother’s space again, no “I’m missing out on Thanksgiving with my mom” tantrums, no pain. It was just this celebration of our love for one another and pure happiness at being together. I don’t know to what, precisely, I should attribute the change. Was it the kids responding to the visible changes in AJ’s & my emotional expression after months of therapy, was it that they are getting older and better able to cope with the transition, was it that they truly missed us?

I wish I could have done a Right Click–>Save As to so many moments over the span of the 5 days they were with us. Like the moment we picked them up at the airport and how we were able to watch them warm to our repeated hugs and smiles until they were hanging all over us and laughing. Or sitting on barstools having coffee (steamers) at the fancy cafe with Olivia and hearing her pour her little heart out to me. Or Andy putting his head on my shoulder, picking up my hand, lacing his fingers through mine, and telling me “I really DO love you.” My heart could not be more full and I’m worried it will spill over and I will forget some of the smaller moments and stop being as completely grateful as I am in this moment.

This may be fleeting. Everything could change tomorrow or next week or next month. But today, I am so thankful for my life.

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holidays and long-distance parenting

November 12, 2012 § Leave a comment

Halloween came and went with it’s usual muted pangs of detachment and exclusion.

It’s such a shit holiday. I’ve always hated it, long before any s-kids were in the picture. It’s only fun until you’re 10 years old, and from that point on it becomes this long string of slutty nurses and awkward home decor. There was this tiny bright moment before everything went to shit where we actually got to celebrate the holiday with the kids, complete with costumes, candy, standing in the cold, the whole nine. It was kind-of fantastic, actually, to see such joy on their faces and to be the home base they ran to after every door, eager to show each and every score. What’s not to like about that?

Part of me wishes we had never had that moment. Now that they’re gone, I know exactly what we’re missing. Exactly what we’ll never get to be a part of. Oh sure, we got to buy some pieces of each kid’s costume, but it was a press the Checkout button online kind of participation. Really, the only kind of participation their mom will allow us. But there is no return on the investment. No pictures of their faces, of how they looked in their costumes, no phone call after. I wonder if they missed us at all or if we’re such a small part of their lives anymore that they forget we’d like to have those moments with them.

And, oh, you’d like to think, you’ll get yours, don’t worry. They’re coming for Thanksgiving. But do you know what the shitty part of it is? We’ll be so glad to see them, but they will spend the entire time feeling like they are missing out on their “real” family and on all the traditions she’s built with them. I don’t fault them for that; of course the house you live in 80% of the year feels like their “real” home.

Who is winning at what here, exactly?

I will try my damndest to make it special and happy for them, but I know they will feel those pangs of regret. I just can’t help but wonder if she doesn’t help those pangs along, feeding them little poisonous lines that sow discontent in their minds. It’s not enough to have them all of the time, she has to make sure that she knows when they’re not with her, they’re miserable.

Holidays are so hard. Nothing ever feels like enough because of the simple fact that we aren’t there all of the time. We live across the country. She got what she wanted. Now no one is happy.

Treat.

November 2, 2010 § Leave a comment

I think the last time I enjoyed Halloween I was 9 years old.  As soon as I grew boobs and aware of all that dumb body stuff (yes, early bloomer), there was something about dressing up that felt awkward and uncomfortable and I just stopped seeing the point. Somewhere in my late teens, I made a shift from ambivalence to distaste and then, by the time I was in my mid-20s, pure hatred of the holiday. I hated the slutty costumes and booze-fests, the pressure to wear something that I’d never wear the other 364 days of the year, the decorations, the hype, everything that came along with the pointless holiday.

Enter the skids.

Somehow we ended up with the perfect trifecta of a bonus 5th weekend in the month, in October, with Halloween celebrated on the Saturday locally, resulting in a Halloween with the skids. I fully expected it to be one of those horribly torturous events that you do for your kids, that no one actually seems to enjoy, but that we all shine on and reminisce over later (See also: Trips to anywhere, shopping, anything involving extended family). I pictured whining over costumes (because no one ever wants to wear anything over or under a costume, wigs are itchy, and they probably didn’t want to be those characters anymore anyways, right?), cold, laborious trekking around downtown with more whining about all the walking.

I could not have been more wrong.

Both skids were twice as excited about their costume choices–Harry Potter and Princess Leia (I know!!)–and put up little to no whining about the whole event. I don’t know what it was, if they were just excited about the holiday, about spending it with us, getting exactly what they wanted and not what shewhomustnotbenamed wanted for them, or what, but it was one of those picture perfect slices of parenthood. I could not get enough of their determined marching from door to door, shining eyes at each new opportunity, happiness over every little piece of candy…all of it. I loved sending them to the door, watching their timid (and later confident) declarations of “trick or treat,” and then seeing their faces eagerly search for us after they’d collected their loot. Every stop they had to share, every door, they wanted to be reunited with us and I clambered to soak up every minute. Even the ill-advised gluttony as they sat in a fun-sized sea at home afterwards.

It might be that we just happened to hit the perfect cross-section of ages with the skids this year, ages where we can all enjoy this holiday with little pain. I don’t know if we’ll ever get an opportunity like this again, but it was more than I ever could have wanted . It might be foolish, but this one day with them was  just enough to fill me with optimism at the thought of another, about the ones to come with hamfisted, roly poly infants, impatient toddlers, and eager-eyed preschoolers.

It’s a silly thing, just trick-or-treating. But really, how could you not love it?

Liberty.

July 7, 2010 § Leave a comment

There was nothing about it that was perfect.

There were tears, tantrums, frustrations. The food wasn’t on perfect, little Martha Stewart trays, not everyone’s hair was combed, hell, not even everyone’s clothes matched, but there was nothing about that holiday that I would trade.

We sat on the beach at sunset, chaos all around us as hundreds of people gathered, eager to add their version of patriotism into the smoke addled air. It was so loud that we had to shout to one another to be heard as we clambered  for our small square of beach to ring out our celebrations of independence. Amidst all that celebratory bedlam, I found myself swallowed up by the pregnant silence of the profound realization that in that moment, I had everything that I wanted. All the noise, the struggles, the heartaches just came crashing down and instead, I felt complete, I felt love in its purest, most untouched form.

They would turn and smile at me, inviting me to share in their joy and I knew I had become a real person to them. I feel so fortunate to be on this side of it, to know the difference now. Every minute that they are here, I want to hug them until I can’t stop and tell them how much I love them until I am out of the breath to say it. I want to love them until my heart stops beating.

I remember now, why we do this, why I am in this. I remember why we bother to subject ourselves to her, why we put every penny we have into fighting so very hard to get to this point. We may never really be free, but this weekend we celebrated our independence from the struggle and danced in the light.

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