Thursday, July 31, 2008

Must Love Kids: A letter to my soldier

Hi baby,

I was just on the bike trainer watching a new reality TV series called “Must Love Kids”. The show has 3 single moms each trying out the dating pool with 4 guys the show has set them up with. I’ve heard a lot about it from the single parents online community I belong to. I was flipping through the channels and came upon it tonight.

As I watched these mothers with their own children and talking about the challenges of choosing a partner to share their lives with, of course I totally related to them. It is very different than dating in my 20’s. I’ve never really been one of those people who just dates for the sake of dating. I never really had an interest in someone unless I could see myself marrying them.

It is different now. I am even more particular about the person I want in my life now. I still can’t see myself dating without thinking of the future – especially now. I can’t compartmentalize my life like that. My children and their future are most of my life and the person I date has to get that.

We’ve had these discussions before. Now I can’t choose someone on the premise of “are we good in bed together?”, “does he like to have fun?”, “are we compatible?”, “does he treat me well?” or “will he go to concerts with me?” All those questions are important to me, of course, but there is so much more to it now.

Now my questions are along the lines of “is this someone who will respect me and my children?”, “is he genuine and caring, unselfish and honest, calm and loving, trustworthy and kind?” and “will he go to see Disney Princesses on Ice with us?”

Watching the show and these first dates, I was reminded of our first date. I had to look ahead to September on my calendar today and I realized that its almost been an entire year since our first date. I even still have the initial email I sent you from August 21 of last year:

Subject: Hello stranger

Hello!

Long time no see. We missed you at the 20th high school reunion. I heard that you were doing a triathlon? Wow. Good for you.

I asked around and got your email address from (our mutual high school friend). I hope that you are well. Write back and tell me what’s going on!!!

Take care,
T


I was feeling very weepy while watching the connections happen on the show. These women who work so hard and feel almost hopeless that any man can fit into their lives and then boom! It actually feels like someone gets it! Like there is a bright shining ray of hope finally in the long road of endless work, cooking, cleaning, laundry and nurturing of these tiny people that mean so much to us.

I remember feeling that way with you. I remember feeling nervous about you… would you want to be with me knowing how my life is so full? I watched as these guys met the children of these single moms and I remember you meeting my children. There is something so obvious about the guy who just isn’t going to cut it. But you... Baby, YOU fit in. You just fit.

And the best feeling of all was that you got me. Not only me but us, my little girls too. It meant so much to me that I couldn’t hold back when I grabbed you for that first kiss. You were such a ray of light for me. You made my heart better and I’m still thankful to you for that.

I guess I’m just feeling you. Feeling you from way over here...

I love you baby. Thank you for being in my life.
T

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Tigger or Eeyore?

Every day, around 2:30 in the afternoon, the CEO of the little company I work for comes into my office for our "meeting". What we do is discuss life and our reactions to it. Even though he has never even heard of A Course in Miracles, he believes in the same concepts. Basically that, you can't change the world but you can change your mind about it.

Yesterday we talked a little bit about Randy Pausch's death and his "Last Lecture". I've had many friends email me and/or blog about it so I went out and watched it. Though I haven't seen it in its entirety, I did enjoy what I've seen. I also read something else he said that struck a chord with me.

You have a choice of two outlooks on life:

A Course in Miracles says you can see through the eyes of the ego or through the eyes of the Holy Spirit.

I tell my kids that they can either choose to be the victim and be sad or smile and have a good time anyway.

Randy Pausch said you can either be a Tigger or an Eeyore.

I LOVE THIS!!! I am going to use his analogy with my kids from now on!!

Think about it - we can't always choose what we are going to encounter in life. As parents, though we'd love to think that we can control everything that happens in our kids' lives, we know that it isn't possible. It is entirely too overwhelming to try to do so. All that we can do is teach them how to bounce. Teach them how to be a Tigger.

And that, my friends, is the most powerful lesson of all.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Can you take a compliment?

Yesterday when I went to pick up the girls from school, I mentioned to one of the teachers that I liked how she fixed her hair that day. She groaned, "Well, it was one of those mornings when I just didn't feel like doing anything with it, you know?"

Earlier last week, I was telling my girlfriend that her boobs looked good in a dress she was wearing. (Yes, I do say things like that.) She laughed and replied, "You're an ass!"

Last night, I told another of my girlfriends that she was looking great. It has been a month since I've last seen her. She said, "I don't feel great. My head's been hurting all day."

Have you noticed this too?

How do you feel when you compliment someone and they shrug it off? Do you feel as if they don't believe you? Like you have no idea what you're talking about?

I've done this too! I am as guilty as the next person! Why is it that we can't be proud when our light shines so brightly?

I had this talk recently with another friend of mine who owns a yoga studio. She is feeling a little shown-up by one of the teachers that she trained! I did my best to remind her that the light she sees in that teacher used to be just a tiny spark and she fanned that flame! She should be proud of her student who is now shining brightly. She influenced her from her very own spirit! Of course, when I told her that, she said, "No, she's just better than me. She's been doing it for less time and she's better than me."

One of my favorite quotes is by Marianne Williamson from A Return to Love: Reflections on A Course in Miracles (a book that changed my life - especially post-marriage!):
"Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won't feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It's not just in some of us; it's in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others."

Over the next week, I noticed that my friend/yoga studio owner read the above quote at the end of every class she taught. She said it was because of our conversation that she had found the quote appropriate. She now realizes how proud she really should be of what she has accomplished. And she's proud of her own light.

Personally, I have found that quote to be something I try to live by. Who are we to think we are less than what we really are? Why do we shrug it off when someone reminds us that we glow, even when we think we don't? (Thanks JustAMan!)

Last night, as I sat next to a fellow Course in Miracles student in my study group, he greeted me with a hello and "T, you are a beautiful woman. You really are."

Wow. It took my breath away to be greeted with such raw openness. I smiled and told him, "Thank you."

We will never see ourselves the way others see us and that's ok. We are always more than that anyway. And you should always be grateful for who you really are.

Monday, July 28, 2008

Care Packages and Mush Music

I really have fun with the care packages I send to my soldier. He enjoys them for their creativity but let me tell you, a girl runs out of ideas after a while! I've sent at least one a month, sometimes two a month, for 7 months now. In between care packages, I try to send cards. I don't always get a card out every week but when I do, he's thrilled to have something waiting for him. He told me that when he receives a care package, its like Christmas morning!

Lately I've been using my video camera to make DVDs for him. He's seen a tour of my new house, met all of my friends at my housewarming party, and was the only boy allowed at my girls' night (via video of course). I've also recorded some naughty things that are for his eyes only. He seems to respond well to those too.



I try to be creative about sending food to him. He gets tired of eating the same things over and over again. In the last care package, I included tuna salad kits, dried and canned fruit, chicken salad kits, tortillas, bean dip, salsa, chips and packages of salmon. He told me recently that someone's church sent him 4 boxes of food so I can lay low on sending groceries for a while.

Another of his favorite things are my mix cds. Its cute to me that he enjoys them. I remember making mix tapes or receiving mix tapes from friends in high school. The funny thing is that sometimes I will put in my copy of a mix cd and then receive an email from him the same day saying that he's listening to it on the other side of the world.



Here are a few of the songs on the latest Sexy Soldier mix cd, just in case you're in need of some songs to celebrate a sexy new or existing relationship:

Head over Feet - Alanis Morrissette
Whatta Man - En Vogue
Umbrella - Rihanna
Do Ya Think I'm Sexy - Rod Stewart
Taking Chances - Celine Dion
If This Room Could Move - iNine
Smooth _ Santana with Rob Thomas
Come Away with Me - Norah Jones
Hero - Mariah Carey
Sexbomb - Tom Jones
Crash Into Me - Dave Matthews Band
Your Body's a Wonderland - John Mayer
I like a Boy - from Barely Political
In These Shoes - Kirsty MacColl
I'm Yours - Jason Mraz

I've noticed that many of the songs on the radio seem to be songs about heartbreak. Its nice to find someone like Colbie Caillat, whose cd Coco, has a few great songs about falling in love.

Colbie Caillat


I especially love the song called Magic:

You've got magic inside your finger tips
Its leaking out all over my skin
Everytime that I get close to you
You're makin me weak with the way you
Look through those eyes

And all I see is your face
All I need is your touch
Wake me up with your lips
Come at me from up above
Yeaaaa, oh I need you

I remember the way that you move
You're dancin easily through my dreams
Its hittin me harder and harder with all your smiles
You are crazy gentle in the way you kiss

All I see is your face
All I need is your touch
Wake me up with your lips
Come at me from up above

Oh baby I need you
To see me, the way I see you
Lovely, wide awake in
The middle of my dreams

And all I see is your face
All I need is your touch
Wake me up with your lips
Come at me from up above


Ah Love!!!


Sunday, July 27, 2008

Roles and Role Models

Sorry about the grouchy post yesterday. I don't know why it hits me but venting does help. Thanks for listening.

I shouldn't question where I am or why I'm there. Ever! I'm always exactly where I should be at any given time.

I was so irritated that I had to help the ex-sister-in-law with painting last night and yet I actually enjoyed myself. My fingers are still a bit creaky from holding a paint brush for a few hours but the sister-in-law (SIL) and I had great conversation.

Her children are both 9 months younger than my two. She always seemed to come up preggers right after I gave birth. I'm happy my kids are so close in age to their cousins. They really enjoy each other. The brother-in-law took them over to the ex's house to keep them away from our painting. The ex was going to be out but his other brother, whom he lives with, was there.

The SIL and I talked about the ex. She says the family is still in shock over the divorce. No one quite knows the details and I certainly didn't want to divulge anything to any members of his family. I don't know what reasons he told them.

I did tell her that he emotionally checked out of our marriage, beginning during my pregnancy with Grace and his impending 40th birthday. I never (and still don't) quite understood why he changed so drastically. It is sad to think of the man I once loved and adored and couldn't wait to have children with.

Then the SIL says, "Yeah, we can tell he's still checked out as a dad too. Its pretty sad."

Excuse me? Still checked out as a dad?!?

"Oh yeah. Its very frustrating. I've almost called you a few times after certain family gatherings but I didn't want to worry you. He just acts like he'd rather be somewhere else. Like its a chore for him. He doesn't do anything with them. We invite them over all the time but he'd rather stay at home with them and do nothing."

Ugh. My stomach sank and I felt tears starting to well in my eyes.

My kids deserve better than that. Its sad enough that I can't be fully present with them all the time. I am the sole EVERYTHING for them. I, at least, depend on him to be the fun person in this mixed up co-parenting relationship.

I've been asking the ex about the one week each summer he's supposed to have the kids - as stated in the divorce decree. (Actually, I think its more than a week but since I've never been without them more than a few days, a week will suffice for now.) He keeps blowing it off, making excuses. In the meantime, school starts in about 4 weeks. If he's going to do anything with them, he should give me a plan. Soon. Now I'm wondering if he even wants to spend that amount of time with them.

I remember when I first told my soldier of the ex's depression and subsequent disintegration of our marriage. His first concern was my children. He said to me, "Girls, especially girls, need a good positive male role model in their lives."

I remember watching my soldier, during the second meeting with my children, as he spun them around and acted silly with them. I remember seeing him, looking oh so gorgeous as he sat between their beds and read them a bedtime story.

And I remember him, through sad eyes, saying to me before his deployment, "I love those kids. I want them to call me 'daddy'."

That is the type of relationship I want my girls to have with their daddy. To me, that is the "role of daddy" that I thought they were getting. The ex seems to be better with them. Is it just a show for me or have I just chosen not to see that he is still really checked out?

It took me 37 years before I came to the conclusion that my daddy loved me the best way he could. The 37 years prior, I hated him for not loving me the way I thought he should.

I want better than that for my girls. Is that too much to ask?

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Random (Grouchy) Thoughts on a Saturday

My mood is irritable at the moment and I'm not sure why. I thought I'd get some stuff out of my head and see if its helpful:

  • Its hotter than f*#% outside and I can't take it anymore. When oh when will fall be here?

  • I'm sick of every sentence in this house beginning with the word, "Mommy?", 50,000 questions every hour and I can't get 5 minutes alone... well except for now.

  • They're young. Really little. I shouldn't rush them into growing up. But I get so tired of being outnumbered and always in demand.

  • Still, they're young. And easily amused. Like right now. They're outside enjoying the $24 blow-up pool I bought at Target. How much longer will they be content with something that only costs $24?

  • Rose sensed my mood earlier and said, "Mommy (of course), I'm sorry you're feeling angry right now." Gosh if only the rest of the world could be as soothing as that. What an amazing child.

  • My girls love me. They call me Mama Duck and they follow me around like baby ducks. My soldier thinks its cute. Tells me to enjoy it while they're young. Still, sometimes I feel like they're just up my ass ALL DAY LONG.

  • But they do love me. Even when I'm a grouch. And they only want me to be around them. I should be around them. Maybe when they're not outside in the heat. I hate 100 degree days.

  • I have so much to do around here and its never ending. Laundry is a part of my life, like eating and going to the restroom. Sheesh! I just feel stifled. I don't want to do anything but go back to bed. And I'm not even tired. Just plain overwhelmed. And hot.

  • I can't believe I've been paying car insurance for 3 months now on the ex's car. Just because my silly insurance man wrote down the wrong car when he renewed a policy for me. I'm pretty sure I told him which car was mine. Now the ex's car is insured by 2 different companies and I'm driving around with no insurance! Argh!! I guess this will be resolved by Monday but it still stresses me out.

  • The ex was really reassuring about the whole insurance thing. He's in the biz. He would know. I'm glad he knows how to handle me when I'm losing it. I guess he learned a thing or two when we were married. Ha!

  • I don't even feel like going over to the ex-sister-in-law's tonight to help her paint her house. I hate painting. I'm sorry I ever asked for her help in painting my house. I only asked her because she loves painting. Why couldn't she ask for help with her computer as the favor in return. That I don't mind doing and it usually doesn't take 4 hours....

  • Why do people ask favors of me? Don't they see that I'm overwhelmed and only get time to myself 4 days a month? I don't mind helping people but when my time is demanded of me.. like my other friends who are pissed at me because I volunteered to house/baby/dog sit for them this weekend and then realized that I had already told the sister-in-law I'd come help paint. Instead of "T, its ok. It was nice of you to offer." I get "Well, we've bought non-refundable plane tickets so um...no pressure or anything." Like I need that.

  • I hate when I'm grouchy like this. I feel like a selfish bitch.

  • I can't stand when this house is a mess. But ugh! It seems like all I do is clean, clean, clean. Laundry. Cook. Clean again.

  • I wonder how my soldier is doing. I do have an email from him in my inbox so at least I know he's alive and well. He's behind on his email. The one he responded to is 4 days old. I miss him.

  • He's asking me if I did sign up for that duathlon. I would like to but I would prefer to do it with someone. I have never done one and I have NO idea what to expect. I really get tired of doing these events alone. It'd be nice to have my soldier home.

  • I need to get on the bike again. The kids won't leave me alone if I did. And I'm so sick of sweating. When will fall be here?

  • I still need to return my running shoes and get another size. Preferably without children. When will I have time for that?

  • I should bring Grace in for a nap. I have no energy for a fight though. She hasn't eaten lunch and says she's not hungry. How grouchy will she be later?

  • It was really nice of my mom's husband to bring some sand over to fill in places in my yard. Its 100 degrees outside and he's wearing jeans. Is he crazy? I'm very fortunate to have so many people step up to help me.

  • My friend J is going to help me out with the outside stuff around the house. He's so great to me. He asked last night if I was going to still be his friend when my soldier gets home. Aw!!! He's been my friend for 23 years! Why would it end now? I love that he loves me and takes such good care of me.

  • Maybe I'll be better about yard stuff when its not so freakin' hot outside. When will fall....dammit!! I'm ready for FALL!

Thursday, July 24, 2008

When it rains...

It seems to rain men. At least from what I've noticed.

I often hear women say, "A good man is hard to find." I believe that if you believe in lack of anything (men, money, love), then that is what you will find.

The way I see it, there are LOTS of good men out there and my life constantly proves it to me.

The other night, I was on the phone with Pickle Boy when my friend Toast called from California. (An old friend who collects toasters. Yes, I have a thing for quirky people.)

Today, I was at lunch with a wonderful, sweet ex-lover, K, and missed when my friend and ex-lover, J, came by my office to invite me to a surprise lunch.

I have a TON of fabulous men in my life. Some single, some married (ok, so not available) and some are in other areas of the country but they are out there! Fortunately for me, they stay in my life as friends, loving me, helping me, and supporting me. I love them all and they know that I do.

Most of my teenage and adult life, I have been surrounded by sweet, kind, big hearted men. I didn't always choose them as boyfriends or lovers. I, like most people, went for the ones that showed no interest.

I guess many of the sweet, kind, big hearted men out there will say "Good men always finish last." That's what the ex said to me when we first started dating. That's when I decided to choose a good man. (And he still is. Even as an ex.)

When I attended my high school reunion last year, I was hoping to see the one guy that I crushed on during most of my high school years. He was a cute guy who liked me as a friend and nothing more. He also had a girlfriend and well.... she and I became friends eventually. You couldn't help but love her. She lost her life in a car crash during my freshman year in college. But I digress...

Instead of seeing him, I heard rumblings about another old high school friend who crushed on me. A really sweet, kind, big hearted guy who I had considered a friend and nothing more. I decided to look him up. I made a deliberate choice to look at the available men in my life and choose one instead of looking for something else.

That guy took me on a romantic first date and swept me off my feet. It was fun to be with someone who reminded me on more than one occasion that I was his high school fantasy. I didn't feel like I had to be someone else. I wanted to impress him, don't get me wrong, but he seemed impressed just to be with me. It was an immediate comfort level that I had never known.

Now, I'm just waiting for "that guy" to come back home from war. In the meantime, I am surrounded by love from good men. I do my best to give them all the love that they give me.

You can only get what you give away you know.


Wednesday, July 23, 2008

From 'we' to 'I'

I'm trying to be more aware of mentioning the ex in my correspondence to my soldier. As I typed an email earlier today, I actually had to go back and change a few sentences from "we" to "I".

He was asking about a trip the ex and I took back after Rose was born. We were fortunate enough to travel to Australia for 2 weeks. It was a dream trip for me and the bonus was that I'd won the trip through work. I even managed to cross off a "must do" item from my life list: scuba dive on the Great Barrier Reef. What a wonderful experience.

My soldier was living in Hawaii during the time that we traveled to Australia. He had emailed me, back then, just to say hello. It had been probably 7 years since we'd spoken. I don't even recall the details of the correspondence. I remember that he was in Hawaii and when I mentioned that we'd be traveling to Australia, he emailed me some things he had done on a recent visit down under as well.

I had forgotten about that email exchange. My soldier remembers every detail. He also remembers that I never responded to him after his suggestions of things to do. I had a 5 month old and was leaving her for 2 weeks. I'm surprised I even remembered my own name during that time!!!

Still, he enjoys picking on me about how I always "blew him off" until we re-connected last fall.

So, I'm typing this email and I realize I have to say:

"I went scuba diving on the Great Barrier Reef."

"I stayed in Sydney for 5 days."

"I stayed in this really cool hotel in Port Douglas near Cairns."

It just seemed strange to me because I didn't do those things alone.

It almost feels like when you change jobs and you have a hard time saying "We are a company that sells software..." and then you realize you no longer work for that company.

I don't know. I guess its not a big deal. Just something I've noticed.

Again, things like this help me to see this deployment as a blessing. I still have time to myself to purge the old to make room for the new!

Yay!

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Best of both worlds

On Sunday, I went to pick up the kids from their dad's house. They always seem so restless when I get there. They act crazy, disobey (basically ignore) their dad, get into stuff, fight with each other, move ENTIRELY too much and sometimes knock over things or get hurt.

He looks worn out and ready to be rid of them.

"They don't mind", he says. "This one's been whiny."

I observe him wrestling with them, picking on them and basically acting like an older brother with them. They love him for being fun, silly and laid back.

Then when he decides to be a father, they basically give him the "Yeah right" treatment. He'll get upset and his voice will take on a threatening tone. They don't budge and he gives up.

"They don't mind."

Its interesting to watch, quite frankly, because I'm happy to see them having fun with their dad. Rarely do I get to act silly and when I do, I have to nip it after a while because they'll go completely nuts and someone will get hurt. (Most of the time, its me. I'm outnumbered and they're both freakishly strong!)

I used to resent the fact that he gets to be the fun parent and I have to be everything else.

However this time, I observed an exceptional change between the two houses.

My younger daughter Grace was whiny, even overly emotional. Rose was silly and even told her dad "no" to something he asked her to do. He says, "You don't tell your dad 'no'." She didn't even look up at him - continued playing with whatever random thing she found that didn't belong to her. His face showed frustration but no follow through. Even I couldn't take him seriously.

We load them into the car and I watch as he's practically running back into his house. I'm certain there's a beer, couch and sports on TV in his near future.

We don't talk much on the drive home. We love to sing and listen to music.

I pull into my garage and Grace has fallen asleep. She must have missed out on a good nap at daddy's house.

Rose immediately removes her seatbelt and says, "Mommy, may I help you unload the car?"

Ok.

I load up the sleeping 3-year-old and watch as my maternal older daughter makes 3 trips to bring in the suitcases and pillows. She then puts Grace's favorite blanket over her on the couch and kisses her on the cheek.

I make my way into the kitchen to continue cleaning from the night before and Rose follows me. She hugs me around the waist and says to me, "Mommy, what can I do to help you clean up?"

Grace wakes up, quietly goes into the playroom and returns with a game. After cleaning the kitchen, I watch as my two girls are playing together, like the best of friends.

I don't know. Maybe its not so bad being the parent who has to do everything. Maybe being the "fun" parent isn't all its cracked up to be. But I'm glad my kids have the best of both worlds. Balance is good.

Monday, July 21, 2008

Every single mom needs one... (part 1)

A nosy neighbor.

As a child, we had Mrs. Beam that lived next door to us. She always kept an eye on the place. We loved her and she became fast friends with my grandmother who lived 3 doors down from us.

Maybe I can appreciate a nosy neighbor because I saw how my mom loved her and appreciated when she "checked in" on us. My mom wasn't a single mom til long after I left home and she was left with my 13 year old brother.

I had heard about a neighbor that lives behind me, across the alley. I have heard from other neighbors that she is a retired busy-body and keeps an eye out on everything. I met her one day and we exchanged numbers. This morning, she called to see if I was ok because I left my garage door open all night and hadn't left for work yet.

Wow. I was thankful to her as she apologized profusely for being a nosy neighbor. It is nice to know that if things look a little off, someone is looking out for me.

Mrs. Beam? Well, she was left alone long after Mr. Beam died. One day, my mom went over to check on her and found that she had passed. All alone in her house.

Yep. Nosy or not... a good neighbor watches out and checks in when things don't look right.

You never know.

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Connecting

My soldier called today. He generally calls me during the week but called today because I had a girls' night last night. My chicas and I get pretty crazy so he always enjoys hearing about our gatherings.

He's so funny when I'm telling him about the get-togethers. He wants to know EVERY detail. As I'm talking, he's like, "Yeah YEAH! And then what happened?!"

I guess its a guy's thing to fantasize about what a bunch of wild girls do when alcohol's involved. I won't divulge details here but let's just say that I always have great stories.



He also said he enjoyed reading my blog posts about my kids from last week. He can't access my blog but I send him fun posts every now and again. He especially liked the parts where I talked about him.

Then he said, "I've noticed you've been talking about your ex quite a bit lately. I'm wondering if there's still something there that you haven't gotten over yet."

Hmmm... well I did mention the ex in the kids' posts. He is their father.

Oh and I did email him about my Grace needing dental work done and how it was stressing me out. The ex volunteered to come to the next appointment with me so that I don't get quite so overwhelmed.

And I did email him about a project I'm working on where I had to pull out my old journals. You know, the old journal where I wrote everyday for a year and a half about how my marriage was crumbling and I thought my life was over. It was especially difficult to go back and see that again.

My soldier said, "I want to know how you feel about the dentist stuff. I want to know how Rose and Grace feel. But I could give a crap less how he feels."

Ok, maybe I have been mentioning him quite a bit. Its not that I want to go back there but I think I'm consciously making the effort to mention him so that my soldier gets used to the idea that the ex is still pretty active in my kids' lives. The ex is still in my life. I can't act like he's not there. But maybe I've gone overboard this past week?

My soldier has a past of dating single moms. He knows about divorced women. He said he can usually tell when a woman is still attached emotionally. He said he won't spend too much time dating a girl like that because he understands that she won't be able to let him in. He said he doesn't feel that way with me.

Ok. Whew!

However, I think he doesn't want to hear about the ex as much as I've brought him up. He's right. I rarely mention the other men in my life who come over to hang out and have dinner or call to talk or help me with things around the house. Why do I mention the ex anyway?

Hmmm... maybe I do have something that I still need to process. This divorce is still new though the ex and I haven't physically lived together in over 2 years. I guess I'm still trying to get used to being on my own in this house without depending on the ex as well. He always helped us in the old place. It was his house too, even though he didn't live there.

I told my soldier that I appreciated his sharing of his feelings. I'm glad he didn't feel like he couldn't bring it to my attention. I love that he can be so comfortably honest with me.

We also talked about other stuff in his life including his job in Iraq, care packages and holidays since I sent him a HUGE 4th July care package. I found myself, as he was talking about his childhood holidays, starting to cry. I have no idea where it came from but I couldn't help it. I noticed I was longing to create future holiday memories with him. He was surprised.

"Baby," he said, "I called to hear about your crazy girls' night. I didn't want to make you cry."

"Well, it hits me every now and then that you are such an amazing man. I can't wait to be with you. I just love you so very much and I'm crying, not because I'm sad, but because I'm so happy that you are in my life."

I couldn't control myself. I was bursting with love.

Friday, July 18, 2008

60

Tonight we have a guest blogger: my mom.

Today would have been my father's 60th birthday. My mom sent this in an email this morning to my brother, sister and myself and, though it may not mean much to my readers, it was fun for me to read.

This is the story of how my parents met... and an introduction to the car I was conceived in (no lie!) named, ironically, "Baby". My family, by the way, remembers everything by the car we drove at the time.


In 1968, I moved to the big city to work at the electric company. I lived with my brother Dennis. I finally got an apartment about a mile from work. A real crazy friend of mine from work moved in with me to help me with the rent. $100.00 a month. We loved our apartment.

She drove a 1965 mustang. I HAD A 1968 DODGE CORONET R/T. There were these 2 crazy guys living next door to us. At first we just saw them coming and going, then one day I walked out our back door to do something, and one of the guys was out back burning letters. Your Dad. I asked him what he was doing, and he said just burning old love letters. Nothing else was said. I didn't even ask him his name. At the time, he was driving a 1960 something Chevrolet convertible. A sharp car.

One day as I was leaving work, we all left work like the plant was on fire. When we hit the parking lot, it was "who can" and "who can't". I took off in my car, rounded a corner and almost hit somebody. We both had to come to a screeching halt. Then we proceeded to shout at each other till we saw that we were next door neighbors.

At the time, your dad was planning on moving out of the apartment because he was tired of his roommate. He said the guy was stealing from him. Your dad would come over in the evening and ask us to wake him up the next morning, so me and my roommate (Betty) would just throw shoes at the wall till we heard him holler back at us.

Another thing, we could always tell when your dad had a girl over. His bed really squeaked, and we use to stick our ears to the wall and listen. We were 2 really crazy chicks.

Your dad and I finally went on our first date. He took me to the CUB, which is still there today. We drank slo gin fizzes. That was some kind of good drink, but I didn't drink, and it didn't taste like it had alcohol in it. I don't remember much after that.

We dated a lot after that. In fact, I got tired of going out with your dad. He would come over un-announced, and I would hide in my closet under the dirty clothes. Betty would let him in, and I would run and hide. But he found me. If my R/T was sitting outside, he knew I was home.

One day, I thought I would pull a good trick on him. I knew he was coming over, so I parked behind my apartment. (It had been raining). Guess what happened? I got stuck. Then he had to help get me out.

I think I pulled some crazy stunts there for a while, but so did he.

We dated in the winter. He would come over in his convertible and tell me that his heater didn't work, (WHATEVER) so we would have to take my car on our date. Another place we would go a lot was a DRIVE-IN-MOVIE. Then after we left there, he just had to drive through THE KOKOMO. Back then if you had a HOT car, you always drove through THE KOKOMO to show it off. There were always these people that thought their car was HOTTER than yours, so they would follow you out and pick a race. THOSE WERE SOME AWESOME DAYS!!!!!!!!!!!!

Your dad would come over and I would have to send him to the store for something, and he would just HAVE to take my car. Well, right outside my back door was OLD GATOR DRAG STRIP. I didn't even have to have my door open to hear him going down the drag strip in my car. I knew her sound anywhere. It made me so mad, and he would come back with a shit-eating grin on his face and we would get into an argument. We got into so many arguments over that car, I couldn't even count them. Sometimes we would be going somewhere, and we would start arguing about the car, and he would stop the car and get out, and say, "take your f--------car. And I would take off, and he would walk home. We did this a lot of times till he caught on. Till he figured out that he was the one walking home, so he didn't do it anymore.

One day my roommate informed me that she was moving out. I could not afford the rent alone, and I sure didn't want to move back home with my parents. At the time, your dad was living with his parents so he wanted to move out also. He found us an apartment. It was a very small 2 room apartment, but I didn't have to move back home and he didn't have to live with his parents. It was home.

We eventually got married in my home town. I will never forget how much it rained that day. We had planned on going to Hot Springs, Ark. on our honeymoon, but it was raining so hard, we just stayed at our apartment. WE NEVER DID GET TO HAVE A HONEYMOON AFTER THAT.

But I guess every day was a honeymoon for us. We really did love each other.

We named my car "BABY" because we didn't have any babies.

He was in the Navy, but after getting out of the Navy, he joined the Army Reserves to get extra money. He needed his birth-certificate, and your grandma couldn't find it or something. Finally she had to tell him that he was adopted. They got into a huge fight. I picked him up from their house and it was a long time before we went back there. He and I talked about this after we got home, and he made me promise that I would never tell you guys. SO THAT IS THE SKELETON THAT WE KEPT IN THE CLOSET ALL THESE YEARS. (Note: My dad divulged this information to us a few months before he found out that he had cancer. My grandparents are still alive and though they weren't his real parents, they are still saddened over outliving their son.)

We both kept working at the electric company for a while. He eventually quit and went to work at another company. I quit after 10 years. I went to work at the mall.

Then the house in front of us went up for sale, so we bought it. T and (my sister) were born while we lived there. THAT FREAKEN HOUSE WAS POSSESSED. It was haunted. (It really was.) Our house note was $69.00 a month. Strange how I still remember that.

Then your grandparents moved on (to the street I grew up on). The house down from them went up for sale. We bought it. (My brother) was born while living there. Our house note went up to $230.00 a month.The rest is history.

I loved our house and my babies. I can say one thing for sure though, when I got married, I WAS YOUNG AND STUPID. I didn't know nothing about anything because of my parents being so strict with me as I was growing up. I learned as I went. I always told myself that I would not be that strict with my kids. I think I did a great job. Your dad and I had our ups and downs (they divorced when I was 22), that's just marriage. You have to argue sometimes.

I REALLY DO MISS HIM. HAPPY 60th BIRTHDAY!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!


I joked with the ex recently that his parents have the example of the perfect marriage (they've been married over 50 years) but my parents had the example of the perfect divorce. They continued to be the best of friends and loved each other long after the bitterness had passed.

We miss you Daddy. Happy birthday from Me#1.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Can you say penis?

Yes, but can you say it out loud, three times in a row? Without cringing or giggling?

This article written by Sheila Kelley in her latest S Factor newsletter totally cracked me up! I can remember a time when I used to be frightened of (and slightly grossed out by) the penis.

I was never in a serious relationship til I was 18 years old. I always had male friends who did so much for me. Why get serious? (By the way, if any of you guys are reading, THANK YOU!!! I still love you!!!)

So its the first relationship and I'm 18 and I'm a horny teenager and so is he. He has his own place, we're making out and ...oh... you want me to touch it? What the hell am I supposed to do with it? My mouth? Don't you use that to pee?!?! Um... no thanks.

We only dated a few months.

No, not because I wouldn't touch it. (Although, I suspect that's the reason he had sex with another girl while we were dating.)

I moved to Texas a few months into our brief "love" affair. Within the first week in Texas, I met the man I eventually married nearly 4 years later.

With my new boyfriend/eventual husband/now ex, I had NO problems with it at all. Why? I have no idea. Maybe I knew it was different with him. Maybe I knew he was worth keeping and the other guy was just a passing fancy.

I read every book on the subject of sex. I wanted to do things, TRY EVERYTHING we could possibly try! I bought oodles of lingerie and toys and videos. I was a fiend! We had sex everywhere we could and did everything we could.

I enjoy being pushed beyond the already blurred sexual boundary I have. Even I have a hard time believing that I refused to touch penis at 18.

Maybe, on some level, women do think the penis isn't attractive. This article states that it is perfectly normal for women to respond to the naked bodies of women more than men. Personally, if I had the choice of going to a strip club, I would choose seeing women strip before I would choose to see men strip. Women's bodies are sensual and beautiful. Works of art. I find myself in admiration of women's bodies. Maybe I'm pushing myself beyond a boundary too.

Personally, I love the penis. I joke frequently that I must be Freud's dream girl because I am curious what it would be like to have a penis. I can remember pretending to have one when I was a child. Don't all girls do that? These days, a girl has options in exploring that curiosity. (See #27 on my list of favorite things.)

I don't find them gross or anything, unlike the girls in the article. I don't think my girlfriends have that reaction either. Maybe this will be a topic of discussion this Saturday night at my girls' night/divorce party.

I'm not sure how old these girls were that she spoke with. I don't know... maybe I'm still that horny teenager looking to learn and experience everything that sex has to offer. And the penis? Well, that's just part of the fun, isn't it?

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

A Kiss from a Rose

I remember when I found out that I was pregnant with my first child. My sister and my niece where living with me because my sister had just separated from her husband. My niece was in the bathtub and I came out of the bathroom with the stick in my hand. My niece was bugging me, "Well?!?! Are you pregnant?!?! Do you see two lines?!?!"

There were indeed two lines.

I looked at myself in the mirror and started laughing. I couldn't believe it.

My husband and I had been trying to get pregnant for many months. We actually ended up conceiving our first daughter on our 8th anniversary. We were both ecstatic.

I read all the books on mothering. We had a beautiful nursery that I spent months decorating in a neutral jungle theme. We decided, after the doctor was unsuccessful at determining the gender during our sonogram, that we'd rather not know anyway. We thought it would be fun to be surprised. No one else thought it was fun. Everyone we knew was perturbed that we didn't know if it was a boy or girl.

The shower gifts were so original!! And in lots of happy colors other than pink or blue. Everyone had to use their imagination!

It was a Tuesday morning, my last week at work before maternity leave. I was lazily trying to get myself out of bed and my husband was already in the kitchen making himself some coffee. He had turned on the Today show in our bedroom and I awoke to see one of the towers of the World Trade Center with smoke billowing from it. Matt Lauer was saying something about it being an accident, perhaps air flight control was off, maybe a mistake with the pilot. As he was saying this, and through my sleepy eyes, I watched, on live TV, as the second plane hit the other tower. Immediately I wrapped my arms around my bulging belly and prayed, "Please God. Don't let my baby be born today."

She was born 8 days later.

After laboring for 12 hours, my doctor stated that she was "sunny side up" and needed to be delivered via C-section. I trusted my doctor (and another friend had a horrible vaginal delivery of a sunny side up baby a few months before). At 7:30 that night, our little Rose was born.

My husband and I had argued over the middle name. We agreed on a first name but couldn't agree on a middle name. I chose Rose after my great-grandmother. He wasn't sure. Then, my doctor (who's last name is Rose) entered the room and we laughed. Rose was her middle name!

My baby was born wanting her mother. She would cry unless I was holding her. I loved her rosebud lips and her dimple. Ah! That dimple! I had never seen anything quite as cute as a dimple in a newborn's cheek.

I dove right into motherhood and my sweet Rose. The after-effects of 9/11 still lingered and the rest of the world was going crazy. I was post-partum and feeling EXTREMELY protective of this new little life I'd brought into this world.

I cried that I had to go back to work. Thankfully, I worked from home quite a bit and hired a wonderful nanny to help. I didn't miss any of the big firsts.

My baby girl loved to sing. I was a singer in a band prior to my pregnancy and continued to sing to my baby in utero. She picked up on it and even as she was learning to talk, she was learning to identify who Mommy's favorite singers were.

She's a natural performer. She is also quite the imaginative director. At an early age, she was already telling her playmates what to do. Now, her teacher tells me that she will read a book, instruct her classmates of their roles and put on plays for the rest of the pre-school.

She is extremely shy otherwise. She has a difficult time trusting herself (and I pray that it isn't because I'm hard on her as a mother... I know that's how I felt because my father was hard on me... mom guilt post later). She is bright, imaginative and a wonderful student at school. When I recently informed her that she made the highest score on their 90 page Kindergarten exit exam, she said, "I did?!?! And I didn't even look at any one else's papers!"

She wasn't sure about my soldier when she first met him. She doesn't trust people immediately. The next time she met him, she was jumping on him and begging him to spin her around and around. She looks to me for guidance. "Mommy, are you happy?" That's the question I hear most often from her.

He recently mailed US a care package (hee hee!) that included a DVD that Rose had longed to see. She was thrilled. Both girls are looking forward to his return from Iraq.

She is one of the most supportive people in my life. I'm sure she was upset when her daddy moved out and she was only 4 1/2, but she held me! She promised ME that everything would be just fine.

This is the same child who reassured me that my father would always be in my heart after seeing me hysterical at hearing of his death. She'd done the same thing, at age 2, when the first of my grandparents passed away.

There is something so inherently spiritual about my Rose. She just KNOWS. There is no question of faith with her. She could tell you all about Jesus, not because we attend church every Sunday (we don't), but because she is so fascinated with him and his life that she asks questions, asks for stories about him, just because she loves WHO HE IS.

Rose is a wonderfully helpful big sister to my Grace. She is kind, mature and understanding. She is wise beyond centuries. She is funny and loves to make her sister and I laugh. She feels when others are sad and it lingers with her. She will ponder for hours why a complete stranger looked sad to her. She loves trees and for a while would hug every tree in our front yard before we headed off each morning. She's quite the little environmentalist, always telling me the effects of people who don't recycle. She loves movies and music and dancing. She is a free spirit who wishes nothing but love and happiness for her mommy.

I am blessed to have kisses from my Rose. She is the brightest bloom in my garden. I truly think this world is a much better place with her in it. I know mine is.


An Ode to Grace

My youngest daughter came to me right before the darkest time in my marriage. I had already suspected that things were not good during my pregnancy... even remarking to my friends, "Yeah, he (the ex) just doesn't like me when I'm pregnant. But I'm ok with it."

Secretly, I wasn't. I was in dire need of being touched and loved.

I'd actually had an accident when I was 8 months pregnant with her so we had to schedule a C-section. I'd broken my tail bone during my fall and since my first daughter was delivered via C-section, I had that option all along.

She was the perfect baby. Everyone thought so. Well, except for a persistent nurse from the hospital nursery who insisted that my newborn's cute little puppy whimpering wasn't cute. She thought something was wrong with her, despite all of the examinations stating otherwise.

Against my wishes, this nurse whisked my feeding infant from my arms to be examined by the NICU doctor. Four hours later, I was hysterical that my baby was not with me and I hadn't heard a word.

Its never a good sign when the nurse returns with a doctor. My beautiful, seemingly healthy new infant had a spontaneous pneumothorax. My baby had a hole in her lung. This condition is apparently quite common in infants born via C-section. I was devastated. They had her in NICU for the next few days and even a few days after I returned home. (The worst feeling ever... to return home from the hospital with no baby.) Still, I am forever grateful to that one nurse who listened and did what she thought was right - even though everyone else said she was wrong.

My youngest daughter's middle name is Grace.

She has truly brought grace into my life. From the very deep dark place that I melted into during the disintegration of my marriage, this infant child would look, so peacefully, into the very depths of who I was. I couldn't look into her eyes without crying. She was the very essence of calming Presence. She was indeed the perfect baby. Perfect in that she was exactly what I needed at the time.

Grace is a thumb-sucker. Not the best habit in the world but helpful to me, as a single mother, in that she knew how to soothe herself. She's also one of those kids (and probably will continue to be as an adult) that once she decides something, that's it.

I laugh and sometimes get frustrated with her at restaurants because when she decides what she wants to eat, the next question is "Where's my food?" She will ask the wait staff every time they walk by, "Where's my food? I ordered, now where is it?"

This trait is also evident when we have to stand in line - as we did at the Cancun airport, waiting to get through customs. "Its too LONG-ee!" she would cry when she noticed the lines. She's also adding the "ee" to the end of every sentence right now.

"Mommy, where's my blank-ee?"

"I love my bear-ee!" (a recent gift from my soldier to her)

"I want to go outside-ee!"

"Where's my food-ee?"

I like her willpower. She decided on her own when she was done with diapers. She's never looked back. Recently, after the dentist warned her of the effects of thumb sucking on her mouth and jaw, I showed her a photo of her possible future braces and jaw-wiring. She looked at me and announced, "Mommy, I'm never sucking my thumb again."

She's done it a few more times, when falling asleep, but when she catches herself, even in her doze, she will pull the thumb out of her mouth.

She knows how to work it. That kid can win over even the grumpiest of people. She just has a sweet, unassuming way about her that says, "You know you love me."

The first time my soldier met Grace, she walked up to him with her arms up, asking to be held. This came as a shock to me since she's really had no other men in her life other than her daddy. Her daddy moved out when she was barely a year old and she doesn't really know what its like to have a man around. She instantly took to my soldier. I remember he looked right at me, pointed to her and said, "How are you supposed to discipline that?!"

I love my Grace. I love that she loves to snuggle and still be held like the monkey that she is. I love that she thinks her sister is hilarious and that her mommy is "gorgeous". I love that she has her daddy's beautiful olive skin and my mother's long fingers. I love that she chose us.

Thank you baby girl, for teaching me that Grace is the most precious gift and comes when you least expect it, but exactly when you need it.


Tuesday, July 15, 2008

These are a few of my favorite things...

I've not slept well the past few nights due to all-night-3-year-old-coughing so despite my dizzy head, I thought I'd try to keep a positive outlook on the day. It helps me to make gratitude lists so (ahem)... here goes:

  1. Raindrops on roses and whiskers on kittens.... (just to make sure you have the tune in your head)
  2. push-up bras and boy shorts from Victoria's Secret
  3. Calms Forte
  4. Laser hair removal (session #4 today!! woohoo!)
  5. The fresh fruits of summertime: plums, peaches, watermelon, cherries, nectarines... and the way the juice drips down your chin when you've bitten into one. YUM.
  6. Morning sex (its been a while but oh how I love lazy morning sex)
  7. Mrs. Mays Cashew Crunch
  8. Getting out on my bike early in the morning when there's no one else on the road. What a great feeling!
  9. Kundalini Yoga
  10. Jason Mraz... and his new song "I'm Yours"
  11. The short drive to work
  12. Emails from my soldier
  13. Blue Anjou
  14. My gal pals and the divorce party/girls' night we're planning this Saturday
  15. Mojitos from La Duni
  16. A clean house and laundry done (my goal for this week... and every week quite frankly)
  17. My older daughter's sense of humor
  18. My younger daughter's giggle
  19. Himalayan Salt Lamps
  20. Shaven legs on clean Egyptian cotton sheets
  21. A Course in Miracles and the amazing insights I learn at each of my study groups
  22. Snuggles from my daughters
  23. An unexpected phone call from a friend
  24. Klean Kanteens
  25. Putting care packages in the mail
  26. Jott - a single parent's best friend
  27. Good Vibrations - a single girl's best friend
What about you guys? Keep the love flowin' with some things that you are thankful for. I promise it will bring a smile to your face.

Saturday, July 12, 2008

Diamonds aren't a girl's best friend....


A removable showerhead is.

And my 6 year old has discovered it.

Ugh!

I've always been proud of myself as a sexually forward thinking mom. I want her to feel comfortable in her skin. I want her to understand that some things are just natural and not to be ashamed of herself or how she feels.

I began masturbating at a VERY early age. It was always something I said with pride to the men in my life.

"I want to play."

She said it innocently enough after I finished washing her hair in the shower. I closed the shower curtain and went to attend to her little sister. I heard giggles from behind the curtain so I slyly peaked my head in. She didn't notice me because she was goin' to town with the removable showerhead.

I nearly passed out.

Whew. I guess all that "sexually forward thinking" crap just came back and bit me in the ass.

Anybody know where I can buy a chastity belt?

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Random thoughts on a Thursday

1) My kids and I were listening to Disney princess music when my favorite, Colors of the Wind from Pocahontas came on. It reminded me of my post from yesterday.
If you walk the footsteps of a stranger, you'll learn things you never knew you never knew. - Lyricist Stephen Schwartz
Perhaps I'm the Pocahontas to my soldier's John Smith?

Note: Should I begin referring to my soldier as John Smith now? I notice other blogs have nicknames for people in their lives and though I hate to conform, maybe "John Smith" is better than "my soldier"? Comments appreciated!


2) I went to get a hair cut over lunch. On the bathroom wall of the salon was a framed well known quote from the Bible:
Love is patient, love is kind.
It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud.
It is not rude, it is not self-seeking,
It is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs.
Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth.
It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always preserves.

-1 Corinthians 13:4
My first thought was: That's the way I see God. Substitute "Love" for "God" in that quote and you'll see God how I see God. It made me smile. And then made me wonder how other people don't see what I see.


3) I was also reading something in my Eckhart Tolle book this morning that I completely agreed with.

In a spiritually motivating post in May, I wrote about "rising up in love" rather than "falling in love". Tolle mentioned something similar in his book saying that "falling in love" is actually more about increasing the ego's need for more.

Falling in love increases that feeling of wanting to be special in another's eyes, "make me happy", "fulfill me" - these are things our egos long for. But soon, we realize that what we long for can't be fulfilled in another. Then we get angry and resentful of the other person.

He went on to say something that has baffled me for a while. The Spanish version of "I love you", te quiero, actually translates directly to "I want you," the ego's version of love. The version "te amo" is used rarely. Maybe because true unselfish love is really rare?


4) The ex is picking up the kids tonight for dinner. I will be meeting a few friends for dinner as well. My girlfriends and I like to "get our nasty on"... We flirt endlessly with each other. Its fun and it makes us feel all fun, confident and sexy. Some gals can't handle it and one such gal invited herself to join us tonight. Man. She's sweet and I like her but you know, sometimes I just want to get silly with my chicas. I don't understand the concept of inviting yourself to someone else's dinner. I guess we'll see what happens.


5) Though I normally wouldn't post photos of my children, I had to post this one (with some special effects). I took this on our vacation and wow... My soldier says I should get it made into cards that say something emotionally appropriate about sisters and friends. My girls love each other!




6) I've been watching the Tour de France. I'm pissed at myself that I never watched it when Lance Armstrong was racing. Its fun to watch but frustrating that none of the Americans are leading. (Though Christian Vande Velde seems to be doing well.) It would've been fun to watch Lance.

I really enjoyed watching the recording of the day's events the other night while I was on my bike trainer. It felt like I was right there with 'em!!


7) Speaking of training, I still need to get on to my training for a triathlon at age 40. I still have some time though I've been blowing it off when my life is crazy busy. I saw this article today about Dara Torres and found my inspiration again. This woman's body ROCKS!! I may not have the trainers but I know I can do whatever I set my mind to. I've amazed myself so far!!


8) I checked my calendar and I will be seeing my soldier on his leave in less than 100 days!!! Hooray!!!

::does the happy dance::


9)
After my haircut, I stopped at a local taqueria for lunch to go. Yum. I tried a drink made from horchata. Yeah. That stuff could be addictive.

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Two different worlds

My soldier called yesterday. He's been extremely busy as many of his counterparts are all on leave. He told me that he had a 17 hour day yesterday and it felt like a vacation. Wow.

As we were getting off the phone, after discussions relating to my friends, my vacation, the things my friends and I talk about, etc., he said something that intrigued me.

"You know, I'm starting to wonder which of our worlds is normal. My uptight, strict, controlled, conformist Army world or the world that you live in. Where people are fun, accepting, open-minded and non-judgmental."

Well, for one thing, the world that I live in doesn't have people shooting at me.

He's been in that "Army world" for over 17 years now. He doesn't know what normal civilian life is like. He tends to get frustrated, especially since we've reconnected, that he does have to conform and follow orders. He has said that he's tired of being controlled. He has mentioned a few times about wanting to rebel after he retires.

I worry about his state of mind. I'm hoping that once he returns back to the U.S., he will gradually readjust and be content with his last few years before retirement from the Army. Gosh, I hope so.

Still, the girl in me is excited. I've been wondering how our worlds would work together. I know next to nothing (though I'm learning!) about the Army world. He doesn't say much about it, except to correct me when I dare talk about it. I've often wondered how I'd survive an Army life. I don't like anyone telling me what to do.

Sometimes I mention something a friend said or did or how my day was and he's completely flabbergasted. He'll say, "You can do that? Really?" or "Wow, I could never get away with that in the Army." or "No one that I know does that. Are you kidding me? I have never even met anyone that does that!"

I find it kind of cute, actually, in a naive sort of way. Its almost like he's in college and has no idea what the real world is like. Now he's itchin' to be done with it and move into the rest of what life has to offer.

I worry that he thinks or fantasizes WAY too much about it. I think it frustrates him more. I guess my world is an exciting new domain for him and he can't wait to explore.

Personally, I like it here. Its never dull and always unpredictable.

I hope he can handle it.

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Our teachers

During my Independence Day post, I mentioned that I didn't like who I became around my family, especially over our vacation. I'm trying to let it go.

I felt much better after attending my study group last night. I realize that it was simply my ego, reacting to another ego. It just seems that when that "other ego" is someone you have such history with, it is difficult to realize that you are reacting. I can't nip it as quickly as I would with someone I haven't known nearly as long.

Perhaps that is why we choose our families... for they are our greatest teachers.

Today's Daily Om was appropriate for me:
July 8, 2008

Bringing Out The Best
Checks And Balances

Most of us have probably come across the universal wisdom that the people who irritate us the most are expressing qualities that we ourselves have. This is why family members can be so vexing for so many of us—we see ourselves in them, and vice versa. This isn’t always true, of course, but when it is, it’s a real opportunity for growth if we can acknowledge it, because it is infinitely easier to change ourselves than it is to try to change another person, which is never a good idea. For example, if we have a coworker who engages in some kind of negative behavior, like complaining or trying to control everything, we can look and see if we ourselves carry those traits.

We may have to look to other situations in our lives to see it, because we behave differently in different environments. Perhaps we don’t complain at work, because our coworker overdoes it, but maybe we do it with our friends. Maybe we aren’t controlling at the office, but we’re used to being in control at home, and this is why we feel so irritated not to be in control at work. Even if we look and find that we are not engaging in the same behavior that we see as negative in others, we can still learn from what we are seeing in this person. The truth is, human nature is universal, and we share many of the same tendencies. What we see in others can always help us to understand ourselves more deeply.

Having the ability to see something in another person, and automatically bring this observation back to ourselves, is like having a built-in system of checks and balances that enables us to be continually engaged in self-exploration and behavior change. When we see behavior we don’t like, we can make a concerted effort to weed it out of ourselves, and when we see behavior we do like, we can let it inspire us to engage in imitation. Through this process, we read our environment and let it influence us to bring out the best in ourselves.

Monday, July 7, 2008

Let's pretend...

Last night, my oldest daughter and I went to see High School Musical, the theater production, with my girlfriend and her daughter. Her daughter is my daughter's very best friend and has been since birth.

We haven't been getting together of late due to the recent separation of my friend and her husband. She's been very angry and upset and sometimes just wants to hide from the world. Been there, got the t-shirt.

We really enjoy watching our girls play together and listening to their conversations. As we were driving home last night, we heard them pretending in the back seat. At one point, one of them said or did something and then we heard her say, "Let's pretend that didn't happen."

Ha!

My girlfriend and I giggled at the thought of grown-ups being able to get away with that. Can you think of a time that you wish you could just have a "do-over"? Remember the do-over?!?! Ah.. those were the days.

Even in High School Musical, there was a scene where the lead characters are relating to the simple days of Kindergarten - when you would meet someone and 10 minutes later, you'd be best friends. There were no expectations or labels about who you were. You had nothing to hide or be afraid of. You were just yourself and either the other 5-year-old liked you or not!

Another friend of mine recently wrote about these "labels" on her blog. Her post brought it to my awareness and well, I've been thinking about it since then.

My friend and I ended our evening last night deep in discussion about expectations that we have... about life, about people, about men. I say over and over that expectations lead to disappointment. Still, it seems like a struggle sometimes to live in the moment and try to let life fold out before you. We could see life through happy eyes if we let ourselves, life and those around us be new every day.

When did we decide that growing up was a better way to live? My children, I'm noticing, seem to have very important lessons for me to learn. I take life way too seriously...and I'm aware of it even more so now.

If we all weren't so "grown up", maybe we could get away with the "do-over". Maybe then, when you made a mistake and hurt someone unintentionally (and I think with most of us, it is unintentional) you could just say to them, "I didn't mean that. Let's pretend that didn't happen."

You guys rock!

Thank you so much to everyone who responded to my last post. It is so nice to know that I'm not the only single parent harboring these feelings. I'm glad to know that it's just me that's being a harsh judge. Thanks again!

Friday, July 4, 2008

Independence as a Single. Mom.


Lately I've been struggling with the term Single Mom. It seems to me that the two words are so contradictory in terms.

When I think of 'single', I imagine time to myself, attending at least 3-4 yoga classes per week, riding my bike on the weekends or evenings, getting a hair cut every 6 weeks, going out with friends on the weekends, dancing to live music, reading books and spending hours at the bookstore, writing, getting back into a band and performing again, eating cereal for dinner (well, that part hasn't changed all that much.), dating....

When I think of 'mom', I think of doting, providing, unselfish nurturing and understanding, unlimited patience, quality time spent teaching, playing, reading and caring for the children....

Is it just me? I don't feel like I can be both at one time. I feel that if I focus too much on taking care of myself, nurturing myself, I have this unrelenting guilt that I should be spending that time with my children. Yet, taking care of myself does make me a better mom, right?

I judge myself as a selfish mother because I don't sit down and play on the floor with my children and I rarely read to them. I try to talk with them and listen to them but I'm not sure I'm always completely present with them.

By the end of the day, after working all day, preparing a (hopefully) nutritious meal, cleaning the kitchen, working on laundry, bathing the girls, and getting them into bed, it is already later than I'd like it to be and I'm simply too spent to pickup a book and read. Especially since they'll ask questions and delay even longer before I'm finally able to get out of their room and get myself on to the bike or on to the computer to blog or (like this ever happens) into the latest book I'm reading. I try to get these things done so I can get to bed at a decent hour or else I'm even more worthless the next day.

I don't even know how I'm going to deal with homework and soccer in the fall when my older daughter begins 1st grade. God help me.

On Sunday afternoons and Monday evenings I attend my Course in Miracles study groups. These groups are very good for me - almost like a support group. I take my yoga classes over lunch during the week. I ride my bike on my trainer at home after the kids have gone to bed. I only watch one TV show per week and I record it so I can watch it late, again when the kids are asleep. The only time I go out with friends is on the weekends that the girls are with their dad. I end up blogging at work because, well, I hate to get on the computer at home. I come home over lunch to pay bills and clean house so that I don't have to do it in the evenings. I haven't had a haircut in ages. Haircuts, doctor and other appointments are done over lunch or if I can get away from work. (Thank God for a permissive work environment.) I feel like I'm ALWAYS doing something and making the most of my time.

I've even noticed that when a friend or someone asks something of me, something that will take time, I get so angry that they'd even ask. Do they not see that I have to plan time for EVERYTHING, and they're going to throw in another expectation of me?!?! This too contributes to that awful, selfish feeling. I am a giver by nature and yet I feel as if I can't give anymore.

On the weekends that the girls are with me, we have a date night - we'll see a movie and have dinner or do something fun. We spend time with other moms/kids that we know, swimming or going to a fun play place. Sometimes during the week, we'll squeeze that in as well, swimming at a friend's house or meeting friends for dinner. We're really rarely at home and when we are, they'll put in a DVD and watch part of a movie while I'm cleaning, cooking, doing laundry or attending to other house matters.

This is HARD. Maybe I judge myself against the idea of the mother (and friend) I think I should be. Or the mother I was when I stayed at home with the kids. And the friend I was before going this mothering route alone.

Sometimes I want to go out and BE single and I simply can't. Then I feel resentment and guilt shortly follows.

Sometimes I resent that I AM single. If I wasn't single, I could focus on my children and not have to deal with this guilt of trying to be both single and mother.

I hate admitting these feelings. But there they are.

Perhaps this is part of the process. Maybe it does get easier. At this point, I am sick of taking care of everyone else. I'm in dire need of a break - yes, even after my vacation. During my trip, I resorted back to the ol' ego while being around my mother and sister. (I'll have to address this later. I am not happy with who I become around them.) Maybe I'm recognizing that the person I thought I was, I am no longer. And I'm trying to fit into these new clothes.

My friends want to throw a Divorce Party for me in a few weeks. It sounds like fun. I hope, in celebrating my independence, I can finally feel the joy in claiming it. I have a feeling that if I can find that joy, my kids will see a much better mommy. They deserve it after all.

Thursday, July 3, 2008

Monkey See, Monkey Do

My kids. I thought with 3 years between them, it wouldn't be that difficult to appease them. Certainly, my older child would be over a certain toy or piece of clothing before the younger one wanted it.

*sigh*

Still in spite of their age difference, I'm always hearing, "Its not fair!!" I've gotten to the point now that I agree with them, "You're right. Life's not fair. Get used to it."

Sometimes I think my older daughter had it easier. She got anything she wanted with no competition. If there was only one muffin left, she got it. One last chocolate pudding, it was hers. Now I have to see complete meltdowns if one gets something that the other one doesn't.

I guess I'm bringing this up in relation to food because this is the latest trend I'm noticing. My girls don't necessarily enjoy the same types of foods so this hasn't been much of an issue. I usually let them choose what they like and on the occasion that they like the same thing, I buy at least two. Somehow lately, one of them will hog both items and leave the other one on the floor in screaming tears.

I try to inform family and friends of this headache as well. They all mean well, purchasing toys or games that they'd assume the older one would like and something different for the younger one. It never works. A fight always ensues.

"Just pretend that they're twins. Assume they like the exact same thing."

Still, the older one will see a scratch or something different and somehow convince the younger one that hers is better and again... a fight ensues.

The toughest part lately has been explaining to my younger one why the older one gets to do more things at school such as going on field trips. "Well, she's 6 and you're 3. You'll be doing this when you're 6 too."

It doesn't work. More fighting.

Why, oh why, does one kid always have it better than the other?

My sister and I are 3 years apart as well. Did we fight like this?

*sigh again*

I guess we did.

Another lesson - we always want what we don't have, don't we?

Suggestions are appreciated!!

***Update: My older daughter was taking medicine for a cough. My younger one kept faking a cough to convince me that she needed medicine too. Now... she has an actual cough. She convinced herself and now she's coughing for real. Ugh! Monkey see, monkey do...***

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Insha Allah

Yesterday I touched briefly on the struggles I sometimes feel with control. Growing up as the oldest child, I had many responsibilities and a father who was difficult to please. I gave everything my all. I planned and attempted to control all that occurred in my life. I was a perfectionist and a control freak. When the ex and I split, I realized that my attempts to control my life, and anyone in it, were completely futile.

Trying to control ANYTHING is not only frustrating but a waste of energy. Who are we kidding? I really think God laughs when we make a plan or try to control what is going to happen in our lives.

A few months ago, my soldier mentioned the attitude of some of the Iraqi soldiers he deals with and how frustrating it is to American soldiers. He also went into the history of Iraq - a subject I knew nothing about. I found this endlessly fascinating:
The Arab culture has a prevailing outlook that they shouldn’t expend a lot of energy on something that may not succeed. They have a saying “Insha Allah”, meaning “God willing”. They use this phrase frequently to express their feelings on something into which they have no intention of putting any extra effort. They think the American officers are silly with all of our questions about what happened in an encounter with the enemy and all of our attention to detail. Iraqi officers tend to think they can’t control anything about the next encounter with the enemy, so why study what the enemy and friendly units did today?

As alpha-male American officers, when they give us the Insha Allah treatment, we take this as them ignoring our requests and having no intention of working on something. We think of this as lazy and lacking in ambition or leadership.

A look at the history of Iraq reveals why the native people may think and behave like they have no control over their lives…The Babylonian Empire, 2500 years ago, was the last time there was a great empire in Iraq. Even when the Arab empires were growing from 600-800 AD, Iraq was being conquered and re-conquered over and over again. The Sunnis would slaughter the Shias then the Shias would counterattack years later and slaughter the Sunnis. In the subsequent 1200 years, Iraq has been conquered on multiple occasions by the Mongols, Persians, Greeks, various factions of Muslims, Turks (twice), Moghuls, British and, most recently, Americans. Baghdad has been attacked at least 20 times by an external force, and the army defending the city has never successfully defended it. It has been conquered and captured every time it has been attacked. Iraq’s neighbors Syria, Palestine and Saudi Arabia have all suffered repeated defeats as well. In addition to the external forces listed above, the Romans and Crusaders found their way into Syria, Palestine and Saudi Arabia, thus contributing to the Arab outlook that individuals do not have power over governing their own lives. Every time they try to build something it is destroyed – it doesn’t last – so why expend energy on anything that could fail?

Is that why I'm trying to let go of control? Because I'm thinking "why expend energy on anything that could fail?"

Or is it because I realize that if I stop trying to control something, if I stop fighting and trying to impose my will, then my life will be easier and less stressful?

As I've said before, expectations lead to disappointment. And its fear that creates that need for control, those expectations.

Things are temporary. Life is temporary. One of the greatest lessons the Buddha learned was the impermanence of things.

I am not saying to have no goals, detach from life, detach from people or situations. Perhaps we need to detach from the requirement that things go exactly as we'd like them to. Or if we don't detach from that requirement, we should at least realize what we're doing and be able to laugh at ourselves that once again, things didn't go as we expected. We could all learn to roll with the tides and not take life so seriously, right?

Perhaps as a soldier who is trained to control, fight and impose will, Insha Allah would be frustrating. But as a human being, is it so wrong to live life that way?

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Knowing or Feeling?

If you've been reading my blog for a while now, you may recall that my latest addiction is the Lifetime TV show Army Wives. I absolutely love this show. It is the only thing I watch on TV anymore. It is my treat, once a week, away from Pinky Dinky Doo and Hannah Montana.

Maybe I enjoy it because it allows me to purge all of the emotion of this deployment without overwhelming my soldier. Maybe because its teaching me about the Army. Or perhaps the show is teaching me the type of woman I need to be to have a life with a soldier.

Watching every episode, I cry. Its not that its dramatic like a soap opera. It is dramatic like real life of dealing with the unknown.

Army wives have to be strong and independent women but also feel comfort in lack of control. You have no idea where the Army will send you or when your spouse will deploy or come home. Whether they will come home. I like the lesson this presents to me. I see myself as strong and independent but its that giving up of control that I sometimes still struggle with.

So I was watching an episode last night and there's a scene with Pamela and Chase (pictured below - photo courtesy of myifetime.com):


Chase works Delta Force and sometimes has to deploy at the drop of a hat for unknown amounts of time. Pamela is home with two children. She is an ex-cop who fell in love with this handsome Army guy. She's actually a better shot than him, which is funny, and gives him pointers. I enjoy watching how she handles his deployment and their two children. She seems strong at times, lost at others.

Last night, they're lying in bed after making love and Chase says to her that he worries about how his absence affects the children. And how it affects their marriage.

Pamela says that she doesn't worry at all. He seems surprised and asks, "You know how much I love you?"

She shakes her head and says, "No, I don't know. I feel it."

I love this. This is exactly how I feel about my soldier. I don't have a clue how much he loves me but I do feel it. Even from 6000 miles away.

I also understand that this is exactly what he, and other soldiers, need. To know (or feel?) that the person they love FEELS that love, even when it can't be expressed. I think it gives them some peace of mind.

What a beautiful thing.