Jan 27 2014
Several weeks ago there was a terrible ice storm, and though I have lived on the east coast now for over a decade, I have rarely driven in such severe weather conditions.
My frightening journey home from work required navigating icy streets and a rather steep incline that proved impossible to ascend with what little traction remained on my tires. As the wheels spun, and the smell of burning rubber filled my car, I began to panic. I attempted to flag down passing drivers, hopeful someone would come to my aid and get me up the hill. When no one stopped, I started making desperate phone calls, first to my brother in Texas, then to friends seeking guidance. After over an hour sitting on the side of the road cold and scared, I pulled myself together and said these words that now also guide me through my divorce: I have to save myself.
No one is going to write a check and save me from bankruptcy or rescue my house from foreclosure. No one is going to help our children cope with the changes or tell me what to do throughout this process. Even my attorney, though amazing, has his limitations. Ultimately I control my attitude, my emotions, and my actions. I am in the driver seat and it is up to me to get up the hill or find an alternative route home.
While it may sound naïve, I firmly believe that the trials I am facing throughout this divorce are sculpting me into a better human being. Divorce has taught me many lessons and though I would not wish this on my worst enemy, I am grateful for the emotional growth. Below are three life lessons I have learned as a result of my divorce. Read the rest of this entry →
Jan 6 2014
As a newly single mother of three, I am confronting numerous changes in my life, while simultaneously trying to maintain stability for our children and shield them from further pain. Despite my efforts, some days I feel overwhelmed by the divorce process and doubt my resilience. Divorce sucks. Divorce sucks worse when children are involved. Below are five things I hate most about being a single mom.
1. The Handover
One night a week and every other weekend I meet my soon-to-be ex at a neutral location for the handover. If all goes well, the children swiftly transfer from my car to their father’s without any verbal exchange between the two of us. I will not be an obstacle in our boys’ relationship with their father. I acknowledge that he has the right to parent them too. Nevertheless, saying goodbye to our children each time feels as if someone is tearing out my organs without anesthesia even though I know they are spending sacred time with him. As I kiss each son one last time and say a prayer for their safety and happiness, I swallow the anguish and hide the tears until I am far from sight and free to let go.
2. The Empty House
My family, friends, and even my lawyer assure me that I will someday appreciate the solitude that these overnights provide, but I remain skeptical. The silence in the house is deafening and their absence is palpable. I long for the sound of little feet stomping across the hardwood floor in the middle of the night in pursuit of the safety of my bed after a bad dream. I miss the “I’m done” shout from the potty, the constant bickering between the twins, and even the screaming of the baby at 2:00 am.
3. The Free Time Read the rest of this entry →
Dec 19 2013
“I got to see the art I wanted to see and eat what I wanted to eat when I wanted to eat it,” my friend said of her recent jaunt to New York. “I’d had so much kid time, I really needed the chance to do things for myself.”
“That’s great,” I affirmed. I hoped I sounded completely sincere. I was, honestly, pretty sincere, and I wished I was even more so. Her end-of-summer divorced parent schedule had given her a long stretch with her kids followed by a long stretch without them. That trip to New York amounted to a divorce perk.
Of course, she’d earned it–in more ways than one. So many things about the choppy life divorced parents and kids experience are difficult. The relief at a chance for total freedom isn’t one of them. A few days in, other feelings return, ones that aren’t so euphoric. My parents are divorced. From inside my body, I get the choppy, frustrated, exhausting compromises that joint custody exacts on everyone. And it’s something I was determined would not happen to me, or my children. Read the rest of this entry →
Dec 10 2013
While browsing through old college journals, I recently caught a glimpse of a younger, happier, more confident woman. The bubbly writing belonged to an idealist who hitchhiked around the Middle East, worked at archaeological sites, and attended graduate school overseas.
Today, our children are my greatest joy, but the past few years of struggling with my husband and the divorce process are taking a heavy toll. I do not want my self-esteem to be contingent on my past accomplishments, nor do I want my happiest memories to be of previous decades.
I am proud of myself for getting out of an unhealthy relationship. Nowadays I am plunging the toilet myself, installing batteries and removing bugs and trash from the house. I am raising three very young children, working a full-time job, and teaching on Saturdays to stay afloat, all while far from extended family. I am persevering and finding inspiration and assistance where I can. Read the rest of this entry →
Nov 14 2013
It’s possible that we’re wired to notice those aspects of art that apply to our own lives–one person staring at a Degas painting might see light, truth, and love, while another might simply see smashed up crumbly cheerios because they are the bane of her existence.
What? My point: the story lines on Parenthood that I am most interested in talking about are the ones that I can relate to, or the ones that somehow reflect my life. As such…
I have been less interested in the Amber/Ryan kerfuffle, or the Drew-goes-to-college-and-tries-to-figure-out-girls saga (though I do love Drew, such a sweet boy) and way more interested in the Julia-and-Joel-chaos and, to some degree, the Bonnie Bedelia-Coach-autumn-of-our-years plot.
First, though, let me take a moment to pay homage to Crosby, my favorite Braverman who, in episode six, rages against the minivan. Now, this was indeed a hackneyed storyline. Surely we all know someone in life (or on Facebook) who has struggled with a similar reality. (I don’t think anyone does it as cutely as Crosby does, though.) To get the details out of the way: Jasmine wants to get a minivan and get rid of Crosby’s “cool” vintage car. This comes to pass, and they make out in the backseat and all is well. Read the rest of this entry →
Oct 16 2013
Our twin boys recently started wearing their first pair of lace-up sneakers. Unfortunately, I have yet to find time to teach them to tie the shoes. As a result, one son came home from daycare with six knots in his right shoe. I know this because it took a painfully long time, with my stubby fingernails, to undo each knot. When I asked him what happened he replied, “Jenny is the only friend in class who knows how to tie shoes. She was trying to help me.”
Our son reminds me almost daily that he is going to marry Jenny. I can clearly visualize the two children seated side by side on the floor with Jenny happily showing our son how to “tie” his shoes. With that image in mind, I began to consider how many people I have interacted with recently, since I made my divorce public (Facebook public, that is), who also wanted to help, but inadvertently pulled a Jenny and put knots in my laces. Read the rest of this entry →
Oct 14 2013
For all y’all out there who think divorce is like the worst thing in the world for the kids, let me tell you something: it doesn’t have to be.
My son and daughter are best friends and allies. Born a year and a half apart, they tandem nursed (think National Geographic Magazine, and you get the idea), go halfsies on the last slice of mushroom pizza, and fall asleep holding hands in a queen-sized bed in our one-room apartment.
They’re closer than any other sibling pair I’ve seen their age. Just last week, my daughter chased down two boys from her class who were teasing her brother:
“You will NOT talk to him like that. He is my brother, and he is awesome.”
And a few days after that, when his sister slipped and fell, my son ran over to help lift her off the dirty ground before I could even say, “Sweet Girl, are you OK?” Read the rest of this entry →
Jul 3 2013
Every Monday and Tuesday at exactly 2:14 pm, my phone beeps to life with the chorus of Destiny’s Child Independent Woman.
All the women who are independent
Throw your hands up at me
I shut the alarm off, scroll through my contacts and text one of three people:
“Any chance we can get a ride home with you today?”
I hold my breath. I cringe involuntarily. My stomach tightens while I wait for a “SURE” or a “no problem” or an “absolutely” to untie the knot.
Yes, while I am doing my best to rock it solo since my ex and I split almost two years ago, living half the week with my kids in a tiny house next to rolling fields and a ginormous sky, where I negotiate paying rent and utilities with a landlord who doesn’t speak English, where I can pay my internet bill and make money transfers over the phone, where I have finally started to create a life that kind of sort of makes sense, I still can’t get from point aleph to point bet–something so freaking basic–without help.
Because unless I have help, it’s going to be a long walk home. Read the rest of this entry →
Jun 27 2013
The Jersey Shore has been resurrected just in time for the beach season, while the only bathroom in my house, also a victim of Superstorm Sandy, is still in ruins. Fortunately the most important feature is in place, but the sink remains in a box in our living room, and the tub is encased in plastic wrap to prevent water from seeping into the walls where the grout should be. Showering is a bit like stepping inside a giant sandwich bag.
A combination of factors has seriously stalled the construction on our bathroom. Luckily I now know that I can adapt to almost any circumstance because of the current state of our home. Read the rest of this entry →