Four Great Years

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“This morning I had two boobs & a boyfriend,” I lamented to KK, my sister extraordinaire. “Tonight… not so much.”

It was October 25, 2012. I woke up with an appointment scheduled to get biopsy results on a lump in my left breast (Head’s up…. it wasn’t good). I also woke up to an email from someone I had been dating for several months telling me that he thought it best if we didn’t see each other anymore. And frankly, once I got the biopsy results, I was glad he said it first because I couldn’t see trying to build a new relationship with someone I had barely gotten to know while undergoing treatment for breast cancer. So I would have broken up with him anyway. (That’s my story & I’m sticking to it.)

“You should come to the Firefighter’s Ball with us!” exclaimed KK. Her husband was an on-call firefighter for their town & while avoiding the obvious jokes about firefighters having balls, I declined, thinking that she wanted me to come on my own & troll for firefighters. Turns out KK’s firefighter husband had a friend who wanted to go to the ball but didn’t have a date. “You can go with him. Worst case, it’s a night out at a winery with music & dancing with me!”

Fine, I figured. Why not?

So there I was… November 9, 2012 – exactly 6 years ago. On a blind date. I still had sutures in my left boob & gauze bandages covering what would become a lovely scar on “Lefty” as this boob that tried to kill me is known.

I worked that morning. It was a Friday & as a manager at Target staring down Black Friday, I was pretty much working every day. I got home at about 5 pm. Threw on a dress & heels & tried to make something out of my newly died red hair. I was supposed to be at KK’s at 6 pm. I was so nervous & so late that I ran a red light. Not just slightly red. Not like the yellow & just barely turned red kind of orange red light. Full on red. As the police officer who pulled me over said, “What was that? You weren’t even close.” I explained that I was on my way to a blind date & was really nervous. He laughed & let me go. (Thanks again, Officer Morgan!)

I forgot lip gloss & really had to pee. I pulled into KK’s driveway at the same time as Him. “F**k!” was my only thought. (Well… not my only thought. I did notice that he had really nice shoes. That’s always a plus for me.) I really wanted to get in the door, pee & borrow lip gloss before this. Instead we literally met in the driveway of my sister’s house. (Years later he would tell me that he introduced himself, shook my hand & immediately thought I was out of his league. How freaking cute is that?!)

The night went on & my new date was super quiet. I couldn’t tell if he wasn’t into me or was just nervous. But frankly, the only food was a mac & cheese & mashed potato bar (News to all of us… we kept waiting for a dinner that never came) & with the wine going strong… well… cue the dancing!

HE DANCED WITH ME!!!!

That’s pretty huge in my book. Having been married to someone who “didn’t dance,” this was new to me. The clincher that night? Everyone started leaving the dance floor as Usher’s “Yeah” came on. “Oh, C’mon!!!” I yelled.

He turned… “This your jam?” he asked.

And we headed back out to the dance floor.

And even though I saw the horror in his eyes as I recited every word of Ludacris’ rap break (“In the club lookin’ so conspicuous!“) he asked me to go out with him again as we stood back in KK’s driveway at the end of the night.

And even though I was in the middle of Black Friday planning & fell asleep at the movie on our first date after the ball….

And even though I think I may have talked to the waiter more than to him at dinner that night….

And even though I ran away… And even though he ran away… we’re figuring it out. And we’re still here. Through cancer. Through radiation. Through new jobs. Through our anchors moving to Arizona. Through parents & kids & sadness & happiness. We’re still here.

Since 2012….

Today he sent me flowers. Because it’s been 6 years. As people saw the flowers on my desk today & asked what they were for I told them, “Four great years!”

“Wow… you’ve been together four years?

“No. Six. Two of them just kind of sucked.”

Happy Anniversary, babes.

We still go to the ball every year!

 

 

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Steve “Heart-vey”…. amiright?

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The Boy, upon seeing this headline in the local grocery store: “Well…. he’s certainly stolen the hearts of America!”

MomDay Monday – The Face of Failure

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A picture is worth a thousand words, so they say, but this one leaves me with none. It came up on the Facebook memories of a friend yesterday & he posted it because, as he says, “This one never gets old.”

A little back story: This is The Ex & me at a kindergarten open house for The Boy in 2010. I can’t begin to recall what infraction caused this icy show down. Who knows… someone forgot to do something or did something they weren’t supposed to. I don’t remember. But a year after this was taken, we would be well on our way to divorce.

I can see why our friend finds this funny. On a lot of levels, I do, too & in past years (because he posts it Every. Year.) I laughed along with him. But yesterday it hit me a lot differently. Yesterday, I captioned it “The Beginning of the End.”

At first I wanted to lash out at our friend & write something scathing to him about reminding me what a failure I am at relationships. After writing several drafts of my scathing comment (that I’m grateful I never posted) I stepped back. Lashing out would change nothing. I do fail at relationships. And not just the romantic ones.

Because that’s what bothered me about this picture. For some reason this year’s posting made me take a harder look at my part in my failed relationships. All of them.

That little blondish head staring at me in the bottom of the picture is The Boy. He was 6 at the time. And damned if this picture didn’t make me regret every time I’ve failed him & his sister.

And that’s where I had to stop myself. Yes. I have failed my kids on a number of occasions. I have failed my parents & family, my friends, my coworkers, my bosses… There’s probably a few fellow drivers on the roads in my town who qualify, too. But I can’t wallow in it. All I can do is recognize when I’ve failed & take whatever steps I can to correct it.

And that’s huge. No one wants to admit when they’ve failed let alone do the hard work of fixing their mistakes. It’s easier to sweep them under the rug & hope nobody notices. Taking the blinders off & facing that reality sucks – and makes you want to lash out at your friends for posts that are actually pretty funny. I was going to say that in the past, that was difficult, but hell, it STILL is. Always will be.

But it’s worth it.

PS – That 6-year-old blonde kid in the picture? He’s 13 now. He’s taller than me & I just bought him a men’s size 10 pair of sneakers. He made honor roll, is in a band & was one of 20 kids in his school of 500 who was asked to join Art Club. Despite his long hair & propensity for sweatpants, the failure couldn’t have been that bad. 

PPS – At the risk of outing my friend who posts this picture every year, I’m going to direct you to his website. If you want to read an unflinching look at dealing with & overcoming mental illness – the ultimate staring failure in the face & making it blink – read his blog: http://www.theocddiaries.com

 

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MomDay Monday – Wait For It

Today was not a good day.

It was the first day back from school vacation. And the two weeks before that were filled with enough snow days to keep them in school until July (Here’s your red, white & blue outfit, kids. Enjoy your class Fourth of July Party!). Trying to get two teenagers up & out the door on a good day is work enough. Today involved trumpets & a system of weights & pulleys to hoist them out of bed & on their way.

The rest of today’s schedule was:

  • 8:30 am – 5 pm: Woooooooooooooooooork – which was the Monday of all Mondays.
  • 5:30 pm: Get The Boy. Bring him to band practice
  • 6 pm: Get The Girl. Bring her to volunteer program kick off event
  • 6:30 pm: Bring The Boy home
  • 7:15 pm: Bring The Girl home
  • 7:30 pm: Make dinner
  • 8 pm: Ignore laundry
  • 8:05 pm: Open wine
  • 8:06 pm: Ignore world

The Girl’s volunteer kick off event was for a group that run a number of homeless shelters & low-cost housing in our city. She will be working with an after school program for homeless kids. When I went to pick her up from the kick off event, she was nowhere to be found. My heart sank. She has been struggling with anxiety & depression in the past few months & my first thought was that she got overwhelmed by the amount of moms & kids in the room & was hiding somewhere. Instead, I found her crouched on the floor in the back of the room with a little girl about three years old. They were making shapes out of beads & guessing what the other had made. I watched her for a few minutes then looked around the room. It was filled with moms & kids. Moms like me. Kids like mine. Only we were going home to our big house. Our big, not-so-warm-house-but-only-because-I’m-cheap-and-don’t-want-to-turn-up-the-heat house with the cabinets full of food. They… well, they were not. They were going to one of the designated apartments in the building we were in. Or they were going wherever they could. One woman was in her car with her two kids looking for a laundromat. I offered her quarters & we went on our way.

And I was grateful for everything I have. My job. My home. My kids. My crazy life.

And then I came across this on Facebook….

No... Just No.

And I wanted to scream.

Because I didn’t enjoy my life today. Not remotely. Life took me down today. Life showed me moms who just wanted the best for their kids & couldn’t give it to them. Even in those moments I was feeling grateful I was also feeling like life was harsh & it was hurtful & I wanted to punch it in the throat. Because that’s what life does sometimes. “Enjoy my life today?” I don’t think so, Charlie Brown.

And then it’s topped off with “tomorrow may never come?” For f**k’s sake, really? There’s already enough pressure to “enjoy life today.” Now I have to be concerned that “tomorrow may never come,” too? I’m a reasonably healthy human being. Frankly, I kind of take it for granted that tomorrow IS going to come. It’s true, though – there are occasions where the dairy free, gluten free, vegan who runs marathons drops dead. But for the most part, we’re all going to see tomorrow. (And since it’s 11:57 pm, I think I have a pretty good shot.)

As the lyric goes in the musical “Hamilton” – “Life doesn’t discriminate between the sinners & the saints – it take & it takes & it takes. And we keep living anyway. We rise & we fall & we break & we make our mistakes.” (This guy could sing the phone book & I’d listen to it.)

Sometimes we just have to wait for it. Some days, we can’t just “enjoy our life today” on cue because Charlie Brown tells us to. Some days we have to wait for it. Wait for the better days. Wait to enjoy the day. And that’s okay. It’s okay to feel bad sometimes. It passes. Wait for it.

Even when someone has it worse than you. It passes & you do whatever you can to help while you wait for it.

Even when you know you have nothing to bitch about. It passes.

Wait for it. It’s on its way.

Ain’t No Rest-Stop for the Wicked

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This old-timey gas pump is in the hallway of the music studio where The Kids take lessons.

The Girl, looking at it closely: “Apparently this is where they fuel up on the Highway to Hell.”

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To Swim or Not To Swim

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This video made me cry today.

 

Swim season is starting again. The Girl’s sport. She took a break after championships last year. She’s not a competitive person by nature unless it involves one-upping her brother & the stress of championships got to her. While she loves to swim & was proud of what she had accomplished, those moments before she had to get on the block & race were her worst. We watched the Olympics together & as we watched Katie Ledecky & Simone Manuel & the other swimmers, The Girl would say, “I almost can’t watch. I’m nervous for them.”

I knew she was on the fence about returning to the sport this season. She misses her friends on the team & truly enjoys swimming, if not competing. I thought seeing these strong women compete in her sport would inspire her to keep going. I thought she would see her own potential as they raced. I told her all about the three swimmers from her very own team that went to the Olympic trials, thinking that news of someone close to home reaching for that gold would inspire her to continue.

In the end, she decided to stop.

And I had to let her make that decision.

After years of being the decision maker, there comes a time when you have to let them decide on their own. It happens gradually. So gradually that I didn’t notice it sneaking up on me. Little by little they start making their own decisions – being their own person, even! When did that happen?! One day you’re laying out their clothes for morning & making them whatever the hell you want for their school lunch. The next, they’re coming downstairs ready for the day with absolutely no help from you & eating whatever they hell they want.

She told her coach.

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The rest of my response goes on to say that she will now go on to rock Health Occupations – the shop she chose as her concentration at her technical high school. Another decision she made all on her own.

She will go on to make many more. Some I won’t agree with, I’m sure. Hell, I don’t entirely agree with this one. It took a lot for me to tell her I was proud of her for making a decision that was right for her when what I wanted to say was, “ARE YOU CRAZY?!? YOU’RE AN AMAZING SWIMMER! DON’T QUIT NOW!”

But as she approaches the second half of her teenage years, I have to hope I’ve done enough to prepare her for a life of making her own decisions.

Because they are no longer mine to make.

She Said What Now?

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The Boy has been taking drum lessons & recently joined a band called The Blast. They’re all about the same age & they have some serious talent going on.

This is The Blast performing “Spiderwebs” by No Doubt at a local festival.

After hearing them practice this particular song one day, I was humming it to myself & sang the line, “It’s all your fault I screen my phone calls.”

The Boy: “That’s what she says?”

Me: “Yes. Why? What did you think she said.”

The Boy: “I thought she said, ‘It’s all your fault I scream my balls off’ & I thought it was a little weird for a kids band.”