Sunday, February 22, 2015

On a new start

Almost everyone reading this right now knows my ex's name, but I'm going to start calling him "ex" from now on for privacy's sake -- not because of any cold and bitter estrangement. We're doing well, co-parenting smoothly, and life is fine between us. Whenever I write about "us" or the divorce or the healing process, I'm going to focus on how I feel or felt, emotionally/mentally, instead of specific details or conversations we had. Onward ho. 

My most intense breakup happened senior year of high school. After a school dance, I got in my Jeep and drove my boyfriend home. As we pulled into his driveway, he turned to me and began The Talk: he loved me, but didn't believe in love, I was taking away from his schoolwork, life was about more than love. It was literally crazy talk. I was blindsided and devastated; there was lots of Maybelline mascara on the upholstery.

I drove to my friend's house down the street and banged on her window to get her onto the snow covered porch. I kicked and cried and drank a few sips of her stepmother's wine. Which, in my head, was the equivalent of snorting a bag of coke. Then I drove to a big sleepover at another friend's house and fell asleep on the hallway floor in my clothes from the dance. I woke up, blissfully forgetting for a minute what had happened. When I remembered, I swallowed an acidic wave of nausea and drove home before anyone else woke up.

That breakup pain lingered for months and months. I was consumed with a hurt I've never -- thank Jesus -- experienced since. I had really loved him, really thought we were going to be together for a long, long time. I felt humiliated and confused and heartbroken. I can't even imagine the music I played to comfort myself. (Phish?) Of course part of that unique level of hell was the terrible landscape of high school. I had to see him everyday at lunch, in our chemistry class, at chorus rehearsal. And we shared all of our friends. (Still do! 16 years later! Ha?) We went from this intimate relationship -- we were only 17, but did have a weirdly deep connection and ended up getting back together for years in college -- to nothing and I could barely handle the change without dry heaving in the stalls. '

Anyways. That was a bad, bad breakup that still makes me shudder. In retrospect, there were definitely some signs we weren't going to live happily ever after in a Boston apartment paradise, but the breakup was still really out of the blue and sudden and when we're taken by surprise -- whether we're getting dumped or fired or going through a miscarriage -- the pain and anxiety and fear that come with an already bleh situation just skyrocket. At least for me.

I'm guessing other people feel the same after sudden bad news or weird life changes and so might have imagined when they first found out about my divorce that I was experiencing that deep well of dark and bad. I think that's why so many people have been reaching out to me, with delight and a touch of shock, to say how happy I look. They say I'm glowing, that I look free and content in all my pictures. And... they're right. I'm happy. I feel free. I promise I'm not putting on a weird Instagram fake out show.

It feels weird to admit that and harder to explain how or why. Did I want to get divorced? No. Was I so excited about being a single mom to two little girls? Also no. But I'd been going through a slow burn breakup for two years, a breakup so gradual and insidious I didn't realize it was happening until it was pretty much over. So instead of finding myself, now, in a sudden state of aloneness after years of comfort and companionship (which, I think, lots of the unmarrieds think married life is always like) I'm actually in a similar spot as I was a year ago. Heading to bed alone, giving myself pep talks, working out problems on paper or through long walks and drives. I mourned the end of something that once was good over such a long period of time that there never was this huge DUN DUN DUN moment. I slowly processed, over days and months, much of the hurt and change and got so used to emotionally supporting myself that I'm just in the groove now, it's just the norm. I don't miss anything because, well, there's nothing to miss.

But I worry that sounds too sad. It's really just explanation for how I'm doing so okay. Because I'm rolling along like I have been, how I've grown accustomed to functioning, but now I can subtract that singular feeling of being alone while not being alone. That is the worst, that is what makes a person cry at night. Because when support should be so close, but is so far away, you start to believe that life will never feel bright again. But this right here? This new life is filled with simplicity and hope and peace. I go to bed exhausted and sore, but without tears or a heavy heart. I wake up bleary eyed, but focused. It's like a second chance at grownup life and I'm so grateful to have it.

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Sitter time

Sitter time is hammer time is fun time is spendy time.

The problem with the oft suggested "sitter time" is it's damn pricey. First, you gots to pay the sitter. Two kids (one a very tiny person) in the city and the hourly rate is bonkers. Then you have to leave your home and go do...something. And somethings cost money.

What I really want to do with three hours to myself is be at home. Alone. In my bed. With cake. Then I want to drift off into a nap with a lil' bit of a frosting mustache. Followed by some television viewing, underwear Swiffering, book reading, and word typing. My two littles would be returned to me all rosy cheeked and chipper and I would be happy to share my space once again.

But yeah, it just doesn't ever work like that. I could kick them out for a little while, but where would they go in the cold cold winter swirl? The longest you can subject a baby to cold air, even when they're all bundled hour? Maybe? Past that she'll start to squirm and freeze and sweat and be hungry. And she's on a two nap schedule and Harper has her constant snack needs and also I just don't really trust anyone who isn't me (or someone related to me/the girls) to take them out on the sidewalks and the road and and.

So all of that is to say, I love sitter time, I adore sitter time -- but I also find it kind of tough to navigate, especially in the winter months. I'm happy to have my ears and brain all to my lonesome, but I'm also homeless and hungry and cold and I need somewhere to rest my Sorels. So I'll go to LPQ and eat a waffle and cappucino and do some writing and reading, but then... ? I've still got two hours left. Library? Window shopping? Should I take a nap in my parked van? Why isn't this Korea where you can rent a nap pod? 

I'm also the absolute worst at stepping out prepared, a Boy Scout's nightmare. I'll remember my phone, but it'll be charged to 4%. I'll forget my hat, but remember Harper's gloves. Computer charged, but no headphones. No book, only 6 milk-sogged Highlights magazines. So then I'm wandering the streets of Brooklyn with a tote of nothing, just looking for a cozy snow-free nook to escape from my children while I pay someone 7 million dollars to watch them. I feel like this is probably the definition of a first world prob, but the struggle is real ya'll.

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

I super miss Waldorf except not really at all

A couple of weekends ago Harper had a birthday party back in Connecticut. I would normally have "lost" the invitation, but it was for her best friend. And also we were heading up to Maine and sort of passing through.

The party was held at a complete parenting hell-scape, one of those abominations that combines a gym with bouncy equipment with the Jonas Bros on repeat with bad cake (and I think Easy Bake Oven cake is good, so..) These joints have always set me on edge, but it's especially rich when you've got a wild, crab-walking infant that you're trying to wean and who thinks she's 5-years-old. And when your actual 5-year-old is terrified of bouncy castles. Help.

Most of the party was fine, I guess, maybe, but then I got sucked into talking to one of Harper's former Waldorf teachers. Let's call her Joan! Now. Joan's not one of the main two women -- who are lovely with a capital Lovely -- that run the school. She's a newer, part-time lady that mostly handles the younger kids who stay for after care. None of which is important to this story, but I felt compelled to report it.

Anyway, at one point I offhand mention that I'm in the process of weaning Bea. Joan's face fell. And then quickly turned to stone. I forgot, guys! I forgot I was not amongst friends. I was amongst the gnome people! Six weeks in Brooklyn and I forgot all those hard earned Waldorf lessons. Damn me.

For whatever reason, even though I was in the middle of committing the gravest of sins -- weaning before the age of 7! -- she wouldn't leave me alone. Here are some choice quotes.

-- "Well. Because I nursed Soy Bean till 30 months, I naturally will do the same for Almond Milk."

-- "No no, Soy Bean. No ice cream for you! We don't eat dairy when we're boogery."

-- "Oh. Raffi. Huh. Well. I've heard of him. *laughs in a scary and confusing way* (are we talking about two different Raffis?!) ...But we prefer to play spoken word games in the car."

I blacked out the rest. 

What came rushing back to me is how unsupportive these women were to me. I tweeted this awhile back, but I really want to send them all an email with, simply: "You guys are kind of the worst." It's true. The Waldorf way -- at least at this school -- is this slow burn, a chronic level of judgment and oneupmanship that creeps and sinks into your bones. It weighs you down and makes you question the simplest of choices. About food and toys and books and clothes. Everything! And there's only one way! Wood and wool and kale. I'm going to write them a wood and wool and kale anthem, they'll love it.

I realized how quickly those feelings can come rushing back when I suddenly was questioning my decision to wean Bea, suddenly doubting something I'd known just one hour before to be right for me. How (but more importantly why) do these ladies with greasy hair and five dollar skirts from the Himalayan goods store excel so fiercely at bringing another sister down? For now, I can only say I don't fucking know. But good riddance; I'mma ride into the sunset on my non-electric car while I eat a Poptart and watch Barney on a handheld device. 

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

I'm so tired

Okay so I decided to wean. It's February, Bea was born in February, and so that makes it a year. As a breastfeeding pusher website once told me, this gives me the "Gold Award" and then many commenters promptly asked "Where can I pick up my award, tho?" I wish I were kidding.

I can't really believe I made it a year, especially because I'm not the biggest breastfeeding champion of the world. I just kind of do it. But I am proud I got this far, whether it was really on purpose or not.

Anyway. One of the main reasons I'm weaning is because I'm exhausted. Like really exhausted. We moved and she started sharing a room with HJ and then she got sick and then she cut three teeth at once and through all of it nursing was her comfort. So I gave in over and over at all hours of the night because I was too tired to fight it. Which I originally typed "figh tit", which kind of works?

One of the main ways my fatigue shows is with word finding problems. Some of which are so deep I've started to concern the people near me. When I need to say something I'll often stare into space for a good 30-60 seconds before I come up with, say, "pan."

Here are a few favorite things I've said without noticing:

"Mom! Follow Bea! She's got an owl!" (I meant apple.)

"Joe! Joe! Joe!" (Trying to get the dog, George, to come.)

"I'm so glad we bought Harper the honey baked ham for her birthday!" (I meant Easy Bake Oven.)

And then a couple days ago I posted a picture of Bea eating a pear to Instagram. I could not -- could not -- remember how to spell pear. First I wrote it pair. Then pare. Then as I was typing into Google "how to spell the fruit pare" I looked up and asked my mom and she, scared, helped a sister out.

We're down to two feedings a day and she's already sleeping (a bit) better. I feel like a strange dizzy monkey from the hormone changes and it's sad to see my baby shift into toddler mode, but I know this is all for the good. My body will be all mine and maybe I'll even sleep five whole hours in a row. I'm into goal setting this year and my newest one is remembering my middle name by the end of March.