Docket Number: Sorry we messed you up

Co-parenting is probably one of the most difficult things two people who share a common interest can do. There are so many conversations to be had that you would never imagine like…Did you notice if he had diarrhea while he was at your house? Why is his shirt so wrinkled?

There’s no way to prepare for what comes after the baby in the baby carriage. But how much should you plan ahead of time and what can you just handle as you get ready to cross the bridge?

When I talk to other women in similar situations, the consensus is that co-parenting is like trying to put a puzzle together with half of the pieces and sometimes you don’t even have the top of the box to refer to. But why is it so difficult? Is it resentment, lingering emotions, the need to control, an attempt to protect the child, a bunch of nameless emotions you can’t label? How can you prevent these things from interfering with your ability to make good decisions?

My answer: I don’t have one ha ha! If I did I wouldn’t be pouring my thoughts into this blog. My opinion, however, is to put things in black and white beforehand. Before you know the lengths you will go to to make sure your child doesn’t experience anything negative. Before you can get upset about the wrong formula or diapers. Before you have an argument about forgetting to pack the wipes. Well, you get my point.

Why are we so reluctant to put these things in black and white? Is it because we want to have those trivial conversations? Are we afraid we won’t be able to live up to what is written in ink and signed by a judge? Who is to blame if you don’t follow through with Christmas plans?

Custody and child support have such a negative connotation. Both things are necessary to raise a child though. Nothing is wrong with delegating responsibilities and sticking to a calendar. Children need consistency. They need to know what to expect. Defining roles is still sharing responsibility, but when one person has less daily chores the trade off is to give up some cash. No, you can’t put a price tag on raising a child, but nothing in life is free, right? And I’ve never heard of a child being harmed by child support payments.

But they can be hurt by tug-of-war and the court documents they find when they’re 23. When they can read every negative thing that was slung back and forth in a courtroom because neither parent wanted to lose. I admit I’ve made a lot of mistakes and I really should have done a better job of keeping up with my puzzle pieces. The one thing I try to remind myself of is that when my son gets older he won’t care who was right or wrong. He will ask me why he doesn’t have any pictures with both of his parents. I will have to explain why he never got to open a Christmas present with his siblings. He will want to know why he has to have two birthday parties every year.

So, I’m still working on this puzzle and I may never get it completely finished but I would like to be able to tell my son that I did my best or at least give a damn good apology.

It’s more than just flowers

I had the pleasure of talking with a sweet grandmother today. She told me she has been married for 61 years. I’m always so touched when I hear stories of love that is cherished in that way even though I cannot even imagine being married for 61 days right now. Sweet Grandma talked some more about her husband, then her grandson and then I showed her my son’s school pictures. She asked me how long I’ve been married. I responded, “Oh, I’m not married.”

I waited for a sad look or for her to change the subject or even ask me a series of questions. Then she laughed. She told me the reaction of my face was sheer disinterest. We laughed together and then I shared a little bit with her about why.

I’m not opposed to marriage nor am I dreaming of it. The one thing I do feel strongly about is not just test driving it to see if I might want to commit to it. If two people can get married as teenagers and stay married for 61 years that can definitely make me open to having that type of connection with someone else. But I certainly would rather get married at 50 and to have 30 years of that than to lease a marriage for a few years at 30.

Sweet Grandma shared some wisdom with me too. She told me that after you say I do at the alter you never stop saying it and you never stop doing it. “It’s more than the flowers,” she said. “So many people get married just for the flowers.”

I have no idea how I would even care enough to pick out the flowers, or colors, or theme of a wedding. Or the table linen or invitations or even a dress. I could go on forever just because I’m not a person who likes all of those little details. I admire people who can put all of those things together but I just don’t enjoy it. I would however enjoy the cake tasting.

I appreciate conversations like these with people who have the wisdom to share. Sweet grandma invited me to her church and told me she had an old sermon she did many years ago that was recorded on a cassette tape that she would share with me. She said she still applies those things to her marriage today.

I don’t know when I might be ready to get married. In fact, there’s no room for it on my to-do list but I am going to buy a cassette player and listen to her tape to get prepared for the days and years of I do’s. And when I start to think about orchids and calla lilies then I will know that I am ready.

Holla at me if you want a bootleg copy of that tape….

Oh, the places you can go?

I’m not feeling so hot today so I decided I would do something productive. Since I have been procrastinating going to the gym since forever, I decided I would just continue to do that and write instead. Which leads me into my next topic LOL…..

I have always taken pride in being the type of person who can have a lot to offer to other people. I am a natural nurturer and like to be the person who people can come to and depend on. I recognized that quality in myself, which is why I decided to become a teacher and then a counselor. But as one of my best friends said recently, “Even a therapist needs a therapist.”

It wasn’t until recently that I realized that is my best and worst quality. Sometimes giving to others is just that. It is doing something noble or just out of the kindness of your heart. But sometimes it is a distraction…it is focusing on others, deflecting your attention onto someone else and putting them in front of you so you don’t have to take care of yourself. For me it is about balance because that good thing can turn into the latter. And since I have perfected procrastination, it is really hard to make myself do certain things.  I can blame that on being too busy or too tired or too distracted, but that never makes those things go away. They just pile up like the clothes in my clothes basket.

What I am learning is that mirrors are not just for checking your makeup or to see if you have food in your teeth. I like to look at this blog as my mirror. Once I publish something, its out there. Everyone can see it. And I have to look at it. I read a lot of self-help articles and inspirational quotes and such. I’m even a partial-fan of Iyanla (mostly because she does things the complete opposite of every counseling skill I’ve ever used or learned). But I have been following the series on the man with 34 kids and there have been some good things said…

One thing that stood out for me was when they asked the fiancee of one of the men featured about her vision. She immediately started talking about why she chose him and why she loved him. Then she asked her again what she saw for her future and she didn’t even understand the question. She didn’t even know what that meant. She was engaged to be married and had two children, but she could not answer a question about herself. She was raising two children, helping her fiance through graduate school and she was a teacher. But that was it. She had no vision for herself and plans for her future, yet she was giving so much of herself to other people’s vision.

Kinda made me think of myself. Well, it really made me think of myself. I have accomplished a lot. I have two degrees. I am a good mother. I have a good career. But that’s it. I haven’t thought much beyond that. And it made me think “What have I been doing?” The whole existing versus living thing is so cliché but it is so appropriate. I have just been going through the motions. Autopilot. To work. Home. Do it all over again.

The sad thing is I would never push myself to think about this too much if it weren’t for being a mom. That’s something I have to get out of. I have to make myself do things for myself and put myself first just as often. But the truth is I know I tell my child everyday how much I love him and that he can dream anything and never limit himself. However, how can I show him that? He had to have gotten that from somebody, right? He isn’t just amazing because he came from nothing. His father and I have to be able to take some credit at least for passing on our genes to him if nothing else. And if I have to teach him how to read or count to one hundred, I have to not only show him how to do it but why it is important.

I just wish i felt so strongly about going to the gym….(no judgment zone, right?)

Through the years

Acknowledging my story and taking it with me….

I have never kept a journal or a diary. I think about something 4,000 times before I post it onto social media. But I am trying to step outside of my comfort zone in hopes that I can help someone else.

I am 30 years old and I have a two year old son. He is everything I could have ever asked for in a child, but the situation that I brought him into is not as perfect. He was created in what I thought was love with my on and off again boyfriend of over 5 years. We had a connection. Something kept bringing us back together. Needless to say that the birth of my son kept us off permanently.

He already had one child and wasn’t fond of having another. I never wanted to be a single mother either. I convinced myself and him that if we could love our child together as the people we knew each other to be that everything would be fine. So, we moved forward. Searched through baby names, went to doctors visits together, discussed our ideas of parenting, etc.

I had a rough pregnancy. I was more than large and my son was too small. I was put on bed rest and had a few hospital stays for early contractions prior to having my son. The birth was just as rough. I lost a lot of blood, slipped in and out of consciousness, and almost lost my life. After, I felt so blessed to be alive. I was so excited about the new life I had brought into this world. All of these events brought my son’s father and I together. We lived in happiness for a while as we awed over our new joy. We still were not together. Friends who occasionally had romantic moments and intimate encounters. We slipped back into feelings but tried to also form boundaries. It was gray. Never black and white. I made personal sacrifices and accepted less than okay standards to have this falseness of a family be my reality.

That did not last long. Things started to show face value. Lots of things came to the light. He was vague and dishonest. He let me believe what I wanted and then would blame me for my feelings, never validating them. I lost focus. I was not focused completely on myself or my son, but the idea that things needed to be fixed or changed. I devoted a lot of energy to that. Too much energy on conversations that were hardly two-sided or genuine.

Our son got older. He started to be more aware. I should have made better decisions at that point, but I didn’t so life made them for me. I found out that he had a third child who was the same age as ours. This DEVASTATED me. I did not know how to make sense of this. I could not put words or assign any feelings to what I was feeling. But I gave myself some time to sit in it.

I decided that was not for me. That was not my concern. I did not have to clean up his mess or put anything together for him. I decided it was not my responsibility to explain his mistakes. I decided it was my job to show my child how you handle situations like an adult. I knew I had to take responsibility for the role I played in this. For my naivety, my unwillingness to be honest with myself, the choice I made to be repeatedly involved with a man who did not deserve me. I also knew I had to show my son how a woman should stand up for herself and how he should love a woman. I knew I wasn’t going to accomplish that by hating his father because he was a part of him. I had to move forward in love. Accept that this is my story. Not move past it and get over the feelings I had. But to acknowledge that this is my story and take it with me into my future.

I call this blog the lemonade lady because I am deciding to make lemonade everyday with the lemons that I am given. I have a tendency to always see the good in people rather than situations. It is my goal to find a balance. I invite anyone to share in my journey as I try to make lemonade everyday.