Compassionate Co-Parenting, Part 2.

My co-parent and I had been together over a decade when we agreed to divorce. We began dating in college when we were only 20 and 21 years old. We have spent over a third of our lifetimes together but our children will have little to no memory of us all living under one roof. At 6 and 3, our oldest may have a couple fleeting memories from here or there, but our son won’t have any memories at all. None. Our children will never remember waking up and crawling into bed with us for sleepy morning cuddles or cleaning the house while belting out the Frozen soundtrack or even huddling in the shower together during a tornado warnings.

Our relationship as “mom and dad” will be not be defined by our marriage, but only by our DIVORCE. They will not remember our 7 year marriage- only our lifetime of divorce. This divorce will end up being our legacy and how we handle this separation, move, and co-parenting relationship will be the foundation that our children will base their knowledge of love, support, and partnership between their parents.

Our marriage went up in flames, but holy crap, we have the incredible opportunity to have an AMAZING divorce! We can rewrite history. We can let bygones be bygones, forgive each other of our trespasses and be the best fucking co-parents on the planet! We can wipe the slate clean, begin at the ground level and start all over again. We can be the friends that once went to a J Crew sample sale in college and joked about our cobblering skills to fix a broken sole. We can be friends that once drove around one New Years Eve in my old Ford Probe looking for a party and ended up ringing in the New Year at a stop light. We can be the friends that discuss the previous night’s episode of The Daily Show (RIP) and how glad we were to see Jon Stewart in NYC before he left the show. We can be friends that commiserate over home repair and our that time we got ripped off by the roofing company after the massive hail storm. We can be friends that enjoy each other’s company while hanging with our progeny and are happy to part ways at the end of the day.

We could literally put everything shitty aside and move on into our new lives and new roles as healthy, functioning, compassionate co-parents. Wouldn’t that be crazy? We could be Lenny Kravitz and Lisa Bonet. We could be supportive and caring and just put our own baggage away for the happiness and stability for those fantastic little people we brought into this world together.

coparenting

You can read more on my take on Compassionate Co-Parenting, here. Thanks!

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Update: By the Numbers

28: Pounds I have lost

89: Days without alcohol

36: Days until the kids and I move into our own home

5: Days left before the divorce should be final

31: Days we will both live under the same roof after being officially divorced

1: Time in the last 2 months that I have completely lost my shit and exploded into a fiery mountain of rage and completely broken trust

6: Times I have looked up Al-Anon meetings

0: Al-Anon meetings I have actually attended

3: Times I have looked up Co-dependent Anonymous meetings

0: Co-dependent Anonymous meetings I have attended

45 (ish): Times I have wanted to take a Xanax in the last 2 months

1: Times I actually took a Xanax

5: Average number of times I work out a week

174, 609: Cuddles I have given my kids lately

235, 090: Number of “I love you” daily

79: Days until I have my first day of junior high all over again

5: Times a day I cannot keep my head from rabbit holing into unpleasant places

5: Times a day I pull myself out and back into the sunshine

1: Hour I have brushed up on American History…you know, the subject I will soon be TEACHING.

300: Approximately the number of hours I should spend brushing up on American History

3: Nights I will be gone for a teaching conference that I was invited to attend in New Orleans

10: Teachers from my school that were invited to the conference

3: Times a day I have thoughts that literally make me sick to my stomach

10: Times a day I have thoughts that make me smile

1300: Calories a day I need to stay under to lose 1.5lbs a week.

500: Average number of calories I burn at the gym every day

1.5: Longest distance of miles I have consecutively run

3: Average number of miles I run/walk a day

1: (maybe 2) Times I look around everyday and think,”it will all be ok, I got this”.

Good Mom and Shitty Person.

“You’re a good mom. A shitty person, looney tunes and incredibly unbalanced, but you are a good mom.”

This is what I was told today. Honestly, I will put this in the WIN column. We can all be pretty shitty given the right circumstances. We are probably all a bit looney tunes given our cycle, amount of sleep and proximity to coffee. Incredibly unbalanced? Well, maybe just moderately unbalanced- but I have been seeing a doctor and I am working on that.

As for the “good mom” part…why, thank you!. I work my freaking ass off being a “good mom”. I get worn down, of course. My patience runs thin, sure. Some days I just want a break while I cry in the closet, this too has happened a couple of times. Lately, mommy has “been having a hard day” more than I would like, but its REAL LIFE. We have hard days and we have good days and the most beautiful thing about our days is that every 24 hours they start over. We get the chance to have a good night’s sleep and wake up with a clean slate. Every day we are afforded the opportunity to slow down, focus and make better choices.

The problem? I don’t make any money being a “good mom”, so in the midst of a divorce, my mom skills don’t rank very high on the totem pole. While being a “good mom” is a HUGE job and a grand commitment, I can’t pay the bills. I can save over $20k a year in daycare tuition- but I don’t necessarily bring home the bacon. This discrepancy is glaringly obvious while divorcing. I am working and praying to the Almighty that I will get a teaching job this August, and I cannot tell you how ready I am to support myself and the kiddos.  While I am so very grateful for the 6 years I was able to stay home with the kids, and for a husband that was happy to support us, it is important that I learn to support myself. I need my own 401K, my own savings and my own two feet to stand on.

Unless you have been there, and in my case I have been here twice- not having a way to support yourself while getting a divorce can be devastating and panic inducing. All of a sudden you have to find a career and insurance and a way to keep food on the table. You haven’t spent the last decade climbing the corporate ladder, you have been at home birthing babies, breastfeeding and rocking them to sleep. You have been scrubbing toilets, buying groceries and singing Sesame Street songs. You have been replacing toilet paper rolls, picking out preschools and cutting crusts off pb &j’s. You have been going to PTA meetings, volunteering as room mom and helping with homework. So, I certainly fucking hope that I have been a “good mom” because if this were school I would be working on my PhD in Mommyhood. This has been my job and my passion and there is a good chance it is also the reason I am loony tunes and a bit unbalanced. Yin and yang, my friends.

So, I will take it as a compliment buried in some shit meant to hurt my feelings- but a compliment nonetheless.

I am a good mom, thanks!

I love my sweet kiddos.

Dear Parents,

I have a confession. Sometimes I completely lose my shit. There is usually yelling. Yelling, cursing, fist pumping and what I assume are fire daggers shooting from my squinted, crazed eyes. I don’t know about the last part for certain, as I have never actually looked in a mirror during these fits, but I assume my family would attest to it. I am not proud of these moments- but they happen, perhaps more often than I would care to admit. I honestly feel like I can’t control it sometimes. Especially at the end of the day, when you can see the light in the tunnel and sugar plums are about to dance in their head- GO THE FUCK TO SLEEP!! That book really does sum it up so well. After over 12 hours on the job, I am spent. I need to turn off my mom brain and give it a rest. I need to recharge.

So, to all of you parents out there, I propose this:

Put your right arm out in front of you. Now cross it over to your to your left shoulder. Pat yourself on the back.

You are awesome.

I just thought that maybe you could use the reminder. I know I need the reminder. In between shuttling kids, cups of coffee and returning emails- I just wanted to let you know that you are doing a pretty fucking fantastic job. You woke up this morning with the best of intentions, got the kids off to school or daycare or put them in front of the TV so that you could get some work done- no judgment. You are doing the best you can.

We are all doing the best we can. Good for us!

Did you put a roast in the crock pot before rushing off to the office? Did you stock the freezer with some tv dinners? Are you calling Pizza Hut on the way home? Are you trying out your new vegan quinoa stirfry? You are awesome!!

Give yourself a pat on the back for all the stuff you DO do. Let’s not focus on the fact that your kid talked you into candy before bed last night, or that you didn’t have the energy to force them to brush their teeth, or that they may or may not have lollipop stuck in their hair…hair that hasn’t been washed in one too many days because you were simply too tired to fight that battle tonight. (Why is it as hard to get them INTO the bath as it is to get them OUT later??!)

You wake up, you love your children fiercely and you try your best. Every. Single. Day.

Sure, sometimes you may yell, sometimes you may let them watch tv all day, sometimes you may feed them mac and cheese from the blue box without cutting up an apple “to keep it healthy”. That’s ok.

The important part is that you are trying. There is a big spectrum and most of us are in the middle making it happen. Making those kids into competent, loving, caring and well-ish adjusted individuals. Take a deep breath, give yourself a break, pour a glass of wine and remember, tomorrow brings a new opportunity for growth.

xoxo

Pinterest, Dear parents you are fucking awesome

HIGH FIVE!

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LOUD NOISES!

NPR was doing this segment called “What 31 sounds like”. I only caught one of the snip its, but basically they asked a bunch of 31 year olds to pick 4 sounds that best encapsulate their lives at the age of 31. I don’t remember what his sounds were, but I am sure they were poetic and lovely. Here are mine:

  1. Yelling. All kinds of yelling. Happy yelling, sad yelling, frustrated mom yelling, tattling on your brother yelling, “watch me mom” yelling, don’t run into the street yelling, overtired screaming and crying yelling, and the occasional public meltdown yelling (the kids, not me, thankfully)
  2. Dora the Explorer. The kids both freaking love that spunky little Latina! Honestly, as long as it isn’t the little douchebag Caillou, I don’t care.
  3. The Big Bang Theory opening song. Jeff makes me sing it every time we watch the show. In fact, if I don’t sing the song he rewinds the show and makes a pouty face until I do sing it. It’s a thing we do. We have “our shows” that we like to watch together every week. It’s the one night that we get to just relax and cuddle on the couch laughing at our favorite programs. Yes, we call them programs. It makes us feel classy and old-timey, like a 50’s tv show couple.
  4. Buzzing. I have a love/hate relationship to the buzzing. It means there is an email/text on our phones. On Jeff’s phone, it’s damn near constant. All. The. Freaking. Time. Holy crap. Work emails, push notifications, twitter alerts, mass family texts during Bears games…all the time. I don’t have nearly the same amount of responsibility, so I get far fewer buzzes. Honestly, I would love to institute cell phone free times or something. I think that technology is the worst time sucker and distractor from the joys of real life ever. (I say as I write this on a lap top while my Facebook page is open in another screen.

caillou

Other potential sounds:

  1. Ice crunching. I am addicted to Sonic ice. Don’t tell my dentist.
  2. Laughing. It’s kind of obligatory, but we do laugh a lot, thankfully.
  3. The dryer. There is always something banging around in there. A penny, a giant acorn, a crayon, chapstick, a lighter…
  4. Door slamming. These kids think it’s funny to slam doors while running from room to room or outside to the backyard. But, you know what they say, it’s all fun and games until someone loses a pinky in the doorjamb.
  5. Singing. Maybe this should have been one of my top 4. My daughter used to sing constantly. No joke, all the damn time. At home, in the car, at the grocery store, on the playground- anywhere and EVERYWHERE! Lately, not so much. Her teacher said that kids focus on one task at a time and then move on. She is into writing and letters now and so her focus is far less performance based lately, thankfully. I needed a break from the musical I was living in.
  6. Fans. A low level hum. When I was growing up we always had a fan in our room for white noise. Now I can’t sleep without it and neither can my kiddos. Thus, we all have desk fans in our room. The overhead fans, while good for circulation, don’t make the same hmmmm sound, so we have the cheap-o desk fans as well. I also have an extra for guests. You are welcome.
  7. Typing. Sometimes I write. When I do, it sounds like “tap tap tappity tap tap tappity”. Sadly, most of the time I still look at the keys, although, I think I am fairly certain I don’t need to- its just habit, and shoddy typing skills.
  8. Munching. I think my kids are carb loading for a marathon. They can demolish a bag of goldfish before lunch.
  9. DMB. I don’t always listen to music around the house, but when I do, its Dave Matthews Band.

What are your 4 sounds?

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Christmas in October

I don’t like the holidays, let me just get that out there. I am super pissed off every year when I see commercials that reference the “holiday season” along side back to school ads! No, no, no. It is not the holiday season. The “holiday season” doesn’t begin until November. Let us freaking get through the hectic “summer is officially over” transition and buy our costumes and candy for Halloween before we dive head first into ugly jingle sweaters and pine scented plastic trees.

My daughter will be 5 and a half this Christmas season, which means that she is in full present/Santa/Elf/decorate a tree/snowball fight mode. Simply said, she will truly “get” it. My dear, sweet, holiday loving husband will be the very happiest this year. He is a Christmas fanatic. Before we were married he made us leave milk and cookies out for Santa and track his path on Santa radar. (I also had to get up in the middle of the night and throw out the now-warm milk and chunk the cookies into the nether regions of the freezer so they wouldn’t be spied thus exposing my secret….don’t tell my husband, he may be crushed.)

Two years ago the Elf on a Shelf nonsense didn’t go over very well. I thought we would try it out, but Ella didn’t really care and we lost interest. (Click HERE to see the Elf shenanigans)

Elmo on a shelf alternative to Elf of a Shelf

Elmo on A Shelf

In fact, we didn’t even spend the money (why is that string bean of an Elf so damn expensive??) and used a Elmo Elf that we had received the year before. Honestly though, the whole idea super e’ffing creeps me out. We tell our kids that a mythical Elf is watching over them to report back to Santa??

Yeah, I am sorry, if you are pissed off about the NSA then you should definitely not be encouraging “the man” to keep watch over your kids during the holiday season.  I know, I know, it’s supposed to be an incentive to keep your kids on their best behavior (which I am all for, I am not against bribes. The promise of fruit snacks got me through the terrible twos) however, the idea of a fat man coming down the chimney bringing presents because his super creepy elf was watching you all season…I don’t know. It’s all too much.

I want to enjoy the leaves changing color, scare some trick-or-treaters, cook a turkey, dress all snazzy for some holiday parties, open some pj’s on Christmas Eve, and then we can talk about Santa and all his creepy, breaking-an-entering antics. Let’s slow down. One thing at a time. It’s still October after all!

Let’s make a deal. I will promise to be less of a Grinch if we can all agree to take one holiday at a time. I may even get my own Elf on a Shelf…he may be creepy, but I could use the leverage with the tiny maniacs over here. (Can I borrow $30? I should have just coughed up the dough when he was on sale after Christmas last year.)

Xoxo

Elf on A Shelf may kill you.

It’s a possibility.

Love and Marriage

So, I have been thinking if I am serious about writing a book it needs to be honest, right? I need to write about things that may be difficult. I need to venture into territory that makes me uncomfortable and vulnerable.  So little by little, I am opening up- because it is good to be scared. After all, writing a book is baring your soul to the (potential) world, right? Writing is about owning your thoughts and feelings and opening them for public consumption…here goes nothing.

My handsome husband works his fucking ass off at work. Like 65 hours a week- balls to the wall. He is one of those people that truly believes “if you want something done right then you have to do it yourself”. I don’t see him. The kids see even less of him. Honestly, I feel like a single parent most of the time. I am so annoyed most of the day that I have become bitter. I am exhausted, bitter and let’s face it, I can be a bitch.

Today he texts me, “You have become a nagging ball of self-serving animosity and bitterness.”

My reply, “I agree.”

He thinks that I am an anomaly. He believes that there must be millions of moms out there and that I am the ONLY one that has turned into a crazy bitter bitch. Well, I watch enough tv, read enough blogs and listen to enough NPR to know that I am without a doubt NOT alone. In fact, just today there was a panel of SAHMs on an NPR program talking about the joys, struggles and growing pains of being a full-time mom. I am not inventing the wheel, and I don’t presume to think that I have any innovations to add to the wheel either.

My reply, “It’s not a trend. It is simply a fact. It’s the hardest god damned job out there and yet being a SAHM has no pay, so you are still at the complete mercy of the provider to take care of you. While we all agree its a vitally important role, it still takes a back seat to anyone else’s needs simply due to the fact that we don’t earn income. Therefore, we are at the mercy of the income earner.”

Yes, I write a lot in a text message. That’s why I cannot Twitter…or Tweet…Twat. Whatever.

I continue, “You work all day making money and want to come home for a respite. Rest, relaxation and support, right?? Me too. That’s all I want. Our needs are the same. I have verbalized that I don’t feel I am getting that from you. You feel you are not getting that from me. That’s the crux. We are just humans working our asses off. We all want the same things. We all deserve the same things. We only get out as much as we put in and currently neither of us is putting much into our marriage because we are exhausting our resources at our jobs.”

He still doesn’t reply…

I continue, “It’s not earth shattering. It’s not a new concept the world has never seen before. It’s a commonality between most all couples with kids. We are not a science experiment to be studied. This is a struggle as old as time. How we handle the situation and evolve into our new roles is going to be what is important.”

Still, no reply. I assume he must be curing cancer from the radio silence that I have received.

Continuing, “But, neither of us is going I feel complete and happy until we make sure we can meet our required needs. This is where communication and lots of compromise is vital.”

No reply. He is a man a few words anyways, so I am not expecting some dissertation on the ideas surrounding marriage and family.  But, he may as well have his phone surgically attached to his hand, so I know the texts have been received; and I assume he at least skimmed my thoughts on the matter.

I reply, “I love you.”

He responds, “You too.”

Me: “You know this is going to end up in a blog, right?”

Him: “Oh, my.”

xoxo

Can’t Test for Awesome

Kindergarten: Cant Test for Awesome

Our daughter started kindergarten this year and yesterday she received her first public school assessment- not from an actual person mind you, but from a computer “game” that teaches letters, sounds and word recognition. This program concluded that she is performing at a pre-kindergarten level. Awesome. So it begins; our first foray into standardized testing, curriculum and goals. It’s hard not to get hung up on the phrase (so kindly highlighted by her teacher) “preforming moderately below grade level and in need of intervention”.

Mind you, if they were dutifully working on a math computer “game” she would be kicking some major ass- that is where her focus has been lately. On Monday she comes home with a thick packet of weekly homework, due back to school on Friday. There are 4-5 math related worksheets that she voraciously devours. Counting and numbers have been her recent obsession. Apparently learning numbers, word problems, math models, counting groups and those little stacking cubes get her motor revving. Good for her! Math was never my thing, nor my husband’s, so I will foster any sense of pride or affection for that subject. Her head just isn’t in the phonics game right now.

As for me, I will embrace the simple kindergarten mathematics while I still understand what the hell is going on. I have seen the new “core curriculum” and I will be damned if it doesn’t take 4 grown adults, an online session at the Kahn academy and a strongly worded letter to my congressman to figure out what the hell happened to simple multiplication! Why are we drawing 81 little hash marks and grouping them into bundles of 9? What a complete waste of time and graphite! There are no memorized times table?? Really? That shit was the bane of my existence in second grade, but once you know it, you use it all the time! Seriously. It’s like one of the only things we learned within the confines of a math class that we  use consistently in real world application. Ever.

This shit is important: If my playdoh recipe calls for 1.5 cups of flour and I want to double the batch so my children, who are incapable of sharing, don’t fight over it all day, we need to multiply 1.5 cups x 2 = 3cups of flour.

I didn’t have to get out my counting bears and chop some heads off to model 1.5. We learned to do some math in our heads. Sure, you can’t see my work- that is why it’s called mental math. It’s done in my mind…and I use that shit all the time! I can barely keep up with my car keys, let alone a baggie filled with math manipulatives for when I need to estimate the potential damage I am about to inflict upon my Target card. But hey, I saved 5% paying with my Red Card- I had better get out my colored stacking cubes to figure out my savings!

While we are in the very early stages of her public schooling career, I want her to be free to delve into subjects that interest her. At 5 years old, focusing on one skill until mastery is developmentally age appropriate. She is fine. I know this. One day she will tire of those worksheets and want to figure out how to read the Frozen Level One reader on her own. Hopefully soon. I am tired of reading “Big snowman, little snowman, RUN RUN RUN!”

Eventually she will want to sound out words and letters, but in the meantime- I need to remember that all kids are on their own individual time scale. Some of the kids are almost a full calendar year older than my sweet baby. She is the youngest in the class and where she may fall short in reading comprehension, she makes up in spades with maturity, kindness and respect. She is a thoughtful friend, an enthusiastic student and a loving daughter. These are the goals that really matter in life- a good attitude and a zest for experiential learning. She wakes up each day ready to have fun and that’s the kind of intelligence there are no “fill in the bubble” tests to quantify. The Emotional Maturity Test. Hell, many of us would fail it as adults, let alone as a little 5 year old girl navigating the halls of elementary school.

So, dear computer program evaluation, I will not let you discourage my sweet girl from her passion of learning. We will work harder to implement our popcorn words into our daily routine, but it will not define her learning abilities, especially after 6 weeks of school.

2nd Day of Kindergarten

I forgot to use my obligatory Pinterest sign the first day. Have no fear, we improvised.

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A Life Worth Deserving

I feel like there is an epidemic out there of people who seem to be thankful for a life in which “they do not deserve”. I have read statements like, “Thank you for all my blessings and a life that I do not deserve”. Excuse me? I have seen you work your ass off to provide for your family. I have seen you want to make each day special, to make a difference to those around you. I have seen you pay it forward in the drive through line at Starbucks. I have seen you make bento box lunches with cookie cutter shaped sandwiches. I have seen you plan surprise family vacations to Disney, host baby showers and scour Pinterest for birthday party ideas. So, to all those humble enough to believe that you don’t deserve the blessings in your life, I would like to let you know, you do.

You deserve your life.

We need to allow ourselves to take credit for the blessings in our lives! We all deserve love, happiness and forgiveness. You deserve the life you have worked for. We all make mistakes, we falter, we make impulsive decisions with disastrous consequences, but that doesn’t mean we are undeserving of happiness or love. Yes, there are times when good things happen to awful people, but this is not the rule. Take a deep breath, you are doing just fine.

Why are we so hard on ourselves? We are human- we make mistakes, we move on and we try to learn from them. Sometimes we are successful, sometimes we aren’t, but here is the key:

It is ok.

You are ok. We are all ok! On the bell curve, we all pretty much fall in the middle. We may sway a little to the left and then swing back to the right, but for the majority- we are trying. Allow yourself to sway and allow yourself to enjoy the happiness on the upswing. When did it become necessary to stop taking credit for the awesome joys in life? I don’t think we can truly enjoy the fruits of our labor if we don’t take responsibility for their existence! They didn’t just land in our laps- we worked our fucking asses off for them.

Maybe if we were all a little more supportive, a little more kind, a little more forgiving, especially to ourselves, we would allow ourselves the opportunity to grow even more.

You deserve your life.
xoxo

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be gentle

Parental Code Words for S-E-X

Parental code words for SEX

Little ears are everywhere! God help me when they can start spelling. My husband and I will have to stay up late with the Rosetta Stone learning another language. I should invent a parent code- a top secret language to talk about super sensitive information, you know, like crap talking about the whiney neighbor kids and where you hid the chocolate. Should you find yourself in the same close quarters, I have it on good authority that these are pretty universal phrases for when mommy and daddy want a little alone time…

  1. “Do you wanna lock the door?” We all know what that means. When I was growing up I would hear my parent’s door lock in the middle of the night and now I know too much.
  2. “Are you tired?” ie: How long do I have before you completely pass out.
  3. “Do you wanna, you know, do it tonight?” Subtle, yet effective.
  4. “The kids are asleep…” It’s the hopefulness at the end of the sentence that is so endearing.
  5. “Should I put the dog outside?” My dog is thankfully not a voyeur, but I hear some of you don’t prefer a drooling, four-legged audience.
  6. “Do you have a headache?”  Honey, do you have a headache? No? Good, then you don’t have an excuse.
  7. “Is it halftime yet?” That’s my favorite kind of halftime show. I wonder how many Fantasy points I can earn…
  8. “I am feeling disconnected.” Admittedly, I say this with or without the anticipation of sex. It’s my go to phrase for needing a date night, deep conversation, cuddle time watching our shows- or some physical reconnection.
  9. “How you doin’?” Hey, it worked for Joey.
  10. “Say hello to my little friend.”  Well, I don’t know if I would want to call it little.

If all the subtle innuendo fails…

Cue up The Humpy Dance by Digital Underground. Stop what you are doing and do the humpty hump.

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