Wednesday, August 12, 2009

One of Those Days

I am a pretty positive person. Can usually make lemonade from lemons pretty easily. Today, however, has been a struggle.

It started, in part, from my not going to bed on time last night (and seems I'm doing that again tonight). I woke up beyond exhausted. Then, today, for some reason, my kids decided this morning would be a good day to pick at each other. I can sense what is coming if I am in my bathroom getting ready and I suddenly hear someone running to my door ("Mooo-ooom.... DD1 is _______ [fill in the blank]"). Both girls were in tears for some reason or another this morning before we left for the day. Nothing like being in the car and telling the girls that they need to quit talking to one another. Or, having to use the tone that helps them to know that I mean it. It got quiet pretty quick.

We did manage to leave early enough for me to make a Starbucks run, something I don't do very often - I'm not a coffee drinker as a rule, but a few times a month I just need it. Like today. Unfortunately, I misjudged the drive-thru line. I was led astray by the fact that there was no one at the speaker. I pulled around the building after ordering and groaned... there's a line. Five cars deep. I did not account for the line, and now it looks like we might be late to school. Great.

Luck was on our side, though, and I got DD2 to school with 3 minutes to spare. I then spoke to DD1 in the car privately before I dropped her off next door about her attitude and her need to "discipline" her sister. Blah, blah, blah. We've had this talk before. I'm sure we'll have it again.

All..... Day..... Meeting..... That..... Accomplished....... Nothing.


(I knew what it was going to be before I went. I did attempt some wardrobe psychology - look good so you can fake it. I was moderately successful. Coffee, gum, and sweet tea helped.)

The afternoon and evening went well. DD1 and I went to the gym while DD2 was at dance. The gym is always good to clear my mind and make me feel better, and it did that for me this afternoon. Amusing incident on the way home as I thought back over some conversations I had over the weekend with my friend who came to visit, and I started smiling to myself - this caused my oldest to ask me why I was smiling, which took me aback - there have been several times she has asked me about my facial expressions now that she has moved to the front seat. I think she loves the change in dynamic between us now that she's up front, and I admit, I do, too - it was fun to tell her she doesn't need to know everything and just to keep smiling. I'm sure I'll get payback from her that is similar at multiple points during her teenage years. Dinner was pretty smooth, and I got to read to them at the table - something I love to do. For about a half-hour afterwards I thought, "this day will end well. Thank you, God."

Bedtime. As usual, I lay down with DD2 to talk about whatever she wants to talk about. She's bubbly about dance, school, etc. Then she starts talking about the morning, and she gets a bit emotional. We talk some more about it and she seems to get calm; I sing her a song, rub her back, kiss her good night - all part of our evening routine, and then I go talk with DD1. I remind her that she's not her sister's mother, and there are some things that she needs to quit doing - perhaps they need to work out a signal for each other when they need space. Decent conversation, but then I hear sniffles coming from the other room.

No, these aren't sniffles. They are full blown, heaving sobs from DD2. I walk into her room to see what is wrong.

"Mom, I wish sometimes we were a normal family."

Oh, God.

We talked it through, and she calmed down finally. Bless her heart, she is finally able to communicate her wants, and those include her mom and dad together, as well as for her stepsister and her sister to include her more. She talked about hating that her sister and step-sister tease her about her bunny blanket (which I have no problem with - as long as she needs her security blanket, she should have it). There are a lot of things that she wants changed that are not issues at my house, other than her dad is not here and won't be, ever again. Those are things I can't help her with, other than being an ear. We talked about the things in her life she has that she wouldn't have had if her dad and I had stayed married. She was able to articulate that she wouldn't have the friends she has now, or our cat, if her dad and I were still together. Amazing. So simple, yet so complex.

These moments tend to come at bedtime, for both kids. When she was calm enough, I reminded her that while I want to have this conversation with her, earlier in the day is better. I kissed her again, and headed out to try to get some work done for yet another meeting tomorrow, but it has been so hard to concentrate. Matter of fact, I haven't been able to. Which is why I'm writing this so hopefully I'll be able to sleep.

I know how hard it has been for both girls, and this is something I certainly struggled with before I got divorced. What is best for the kids? Ultimately, I decided that a mother who is fully present, happy, and emotionally healthy was better than a mother who had no energy and was hiding/dead in the marriage and had lost her identity. What kind of model did I want to set for my kids? It wasn't the latter, that's for sure.

I once told a friend that no one grows up thinking, "One day I'll get married, and then I'll get divorced." No one plans divorce. No one really wants it. But sometimes, it happens.

I don't regret my decision for a moment to get divorced. I have learned so much about myself since that time that I did not have space to learn inside that marriage. I don't regret the marriage, either - we had a good run, and we are blessed with two incredible kids who we wouldn't have otherwise. I've certainly had my highs and lows, as well as several failed relationships since, but nothing I regret or would change. I found myself in the process, and as my therapist commented to me earlier in the summer, I am a completely different person who is comfortable in her skin and deep down in the gut happy. And, despite days like today, that is the rule rather than the exception in how I operate in the world. How lucky am I? Very.

I hope some day that my kids will understand that I have the life I have now for them as much as me. Maybe they will, or maybe I am just greasing the palm of their therapists in the future. Either way, we don't have to be a "normal family." The fact that we are a family is all that matters. And if it takes days like today to remind us all of this fact, that's ok, too.

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