The Day You Start Moving On

It’s funny how sometimes you have no idea what you need until it’s happening.  You can have weeks of sadness, confusion, lack of direction and then suddenly something shifts.  Yesterday was one of those days.

Today Dad and I met with the hospice social worker and the chaplain.  It was our first meeting with them, an opportunity to learn who they are and what services they offered and also an opportunity for them to learn about us.  How they could help.  After speaking with Dad, the chaplain turned to me and said, “As a caregiver, who is available for you to turn to for emotional support?”  I hesitated, laughed, and said the first person who popped into my mind.  My not quite ex-husband.

Yesterday my ex and I went riding.  The weather has been absolutely gorgeous here.  The days a little cooler.  The humidity a little less oppressive.  I had no idea how much I needed to be outdoors.  When Thomas asked if I wanted to go ride quads, I didn’t even hesitate.  I followed him down a new to me path and found myself riding through a postcard.

A train used to pass through the countryside here.  I have no idea how long ago.   These days, the tracks have been removed and what is left behind is a path through one of the most beautiful scenes that I have ever seen.  I knew they existed- part of them run right behind our house and I used to hit them almost daily when I was trying to run some of the energy out of two seventy pound dogs.  They pass through the woods, through streams where the dogs love to swim.  Through dirt roads surrounded by corn fields and soybeans.  Sometimes I sit and watch the farm equipment as it moves up and down the rows and I can’t even believe how beautiful this world can be.  I had no idea there were miles and miles of path that I didn’t know existed.  Paths full of trees and shade and dappled sunlight.

I know it’s weird that we were riding together.  I mean recent events haven’t exactly been great, but life goes on.  I needed fresh air, sunshine and the peace of mind that I can only seem to find when the wind is rushing by.  I didn’t go with any expectations or even really any thought other than I needed to be outside and I don’t like to ride alone.  I didn’t go for closure, yet that’s what I found.

So my quad doesn’t have the greatest brakes ever.  Going down any kind of steep hill requires the abandon of all sense of caution and prayer.  I was following Thomas and at one point I managed to find myself stuck on the edge of a rock, leaning to one side and afraid to move because I just knew that if I managed to get myself off that rock without turning over, I was going to be praying pretty hard for brakes on the way down.  In reality, I probably wasn’t in any danger of flipping, I just like to feel all four tires firmly on the ground at all times…  Thomas turned around to see where I was.  The sight of me frozen, eyes like saucers, not even daring to breathe was apparently super funny.  A minute later we were both laughing, I trusted him when he said I could make it down and I took a leap of faith.  There was a lot of screaming (me) and laughing (both of us) but I made it down.  It turns out that not all of our trust was shattered.

Then I got sad.

I started wondering why our marriage could never work.  I watched him riding ahead of me.  Both of us in our element.  Both of us having fun.  Together.  I could ride behind him for days, just enjoying the trees, the adventure, close enough to nature that I can reach out and touch it.  I had to work my way through why that could never happen in order to get to what can.

I don’t know what is wrong with him.  I truly don’t.  I’ve diagnosed him.  I’ve said he’s his own worst enemy.  None of that really matters.  What matters is that when we are trying to be together, something switches off in him.  He’s not happy.  I’m not happy.   We are both always searching.  I just choose to focus my search on ideas, words, psychology, scriptures.  We both have our own band-aids.  The truth is, if we were together right now, we probably wouldn’t have been riding at all.  If we were, he probably would have been more annoyed than tickled when I got stuck.  I probably would have been anxious.  Instead, I was carefree.

We completely suck at being married, but we are usually really good at being friends.  Not that we didn’t almost manage to find a way to ruin that, too.  Me by thinking we could start over like the previous decade never existed.  Him by… well, always searching for band-aids.  Temporary fixes that don’t fix anything.

I don’t know how to explain how I can still be friends after everything that’s happened other than I just can.  It’s a choice I made.  There is not one thing about me that he doesn’t know.  There is nothing that I could ever think that I would be afraid to say out loud.  I need that.  When everything came out a couple weeks ago, that is what I was grieving.  Not my marriage.  My best friend.  We don’t usually mess that up.

I’m a huge believer in finding the lesson.  The day after “the big reveal”, I was devastated but I also knew that I was never going to stop wondering about my decisions regarding moving on or trying to stay in our marriage unless God basically hit me with a hammer.  The amount of guilt that I felt over Jace not having what he wanted- his parents together- was overwhelming.  The big reveal was God’s hammer and as much as it hurt, I was grateful to know that I wasn’t doing any of us any favors by trying to hold on.

No, everything isn’t just back like it was.  I’m a different person now.  I know that in time, Thomas and I are both going to have other people in our lives that fill that best friend role and honestly, I’m looking forward to that day.  I know someday there will be a man who wants nothing more than to ride through life beside me.  I hope that Thomas finds the person who heals his soul.  I hope that the four of us can share some of the best moments of our lives together.  Our children getting married.  Grandchildren being born.  I truly look forward to those days.

For once in our time together, I think we are both on the same page.

Trust Is a Luxury

People say that I forgive too easily.  That not everyone deserves forgiveness.  What they don’t know is my motives are selfish.  It’s just me, trying to breathe.

I grew up in chaos.  Anger.  Conflict.  I don’t know who I would have been if not for that.  Would I have battled depression?  Would I have battled my head?  Would I have spent my entire life trying to measure up?  The worst thing in the world is to know that you will never know what you might have been.

As an adult, I abhor conflict.  I hate it.  Typing the word fills me with anxiety.  I can’t bear it.

I wonder if everyone spends their life searching for that one elusive thing.  Mine isn’t happiness- I know and have known happiness.  My children fill my heart with more happiness than they will ever know.  I don’t even think that it’s love.  I’ve known that, too.  I never knew what love was until I held Will for the first time and knew that I would die for him, no questions asked.  Yes, I know and have known fierce, animalistic, unconditional love.  Three times over.  I think what I crave is safety.

I forgive because I can’t tolerate the alternative.  I forgive because I need forgiveness.  I forgive because I have to.  I just don’t forget.

 

 

 

Just a No-Bake Cookie Failure

I just inhaled three no-bake cookies that I had to scrape off the waxed paper with a spoon but I know you aren’t judging me.  You get it.

I typed those two sentences nineteen times because my 10 year old is staring at me talking about megalodons and hunks of meat.  Honestly, this isn’t even weird.

gray and blue dinosaure ffigurines
Photo by rawpixel.com on Pexels.com

The list of things that I can’t cook is very small. Sitting here now, I’m realizing that really the only things that I can’t cook are things that require patience.  The patience to watch things boil, to time it just right so that everything sets and melds and does whatever it’s supposed to do to turn out perfectly.  I didn’t get that gene.  I got the ‘you can always add enough butter, salt and bacon’ gene.  One gives you perfection and the other gives you something that’s a little bit different every time you eat it, but it’s always good.

Speaking of patience, lately I feel like the little bit that I did have is going fast.  I’m tired and more than being tired, I just don’t feel appreciated like basically every mother who ever mothered.  I’m exhausted.

Dad was in the hospital for over a week and he came home the day before the 4th of July.  On the 4th, I had a military retirement party for my ex.  Yes, I’ll go ahead and repeat that.  On the 4th, I had a military retirement party for my ex.  Moving on, that day I don’t think I sat down all day long.  I was tired- physically and mentally.  I was flaring and in pain- because fibromyalgia is like your least favorite relative who consistently visits at the worst possible time.  I was stressed- because… life.  But throughout the day, I was also the only one who could consistently be found, in the kitchen, just plodding away, getting it done.  It seemed like every time I looked for someone to ask them to do something, they were lying in bed.  I found myself wondering what I always wonder when I feel overworked and underpaid.  What would happen if I just laid down?

We know the answer to that, right?  I mean for starters, none of our guests would have been eating when they got here…

Moms, well women, keep the world turning.  We are the taxis, the nurses, the makers of makeshift critter enclosures.  We are the nurturers, the caregivers, the chicken soup makers.  We are the hunters and gatherers of backpacks, shin guards, lost permission slips…

We are supposed to do all of this without losing our shit.  When we repeat the same request 47 times and become unglued on the 48th repetition, they look at us like we are crazy and knocking on menopause’s door.  We are supposed to manage the home, a career, the children, the aging parents, the extracurriculars, the bills and keep track of everyone’s everything so we can recall at a moment’s notice where you left your keys and we are supposed to do this with a pleasant disposition and a smile and no need to nap.

You really are the reason we drink.  Those Mother’s Day liquor store jokes aren’t really jokes.

Even though we do all of this and manage to keep everyone alive, clothed and mostly intact, for some reason, we are also masters of guilt.  Somedays we love every single moment of wiping noses, digging under the front seat for that super important Pokémon card that has turned up missing and cooking dinner that doesn’t get eaten because today you are a yogurtatarian.  Other days, we don’t.  We want to go on a week long vacation, BY OURSELVES, to a place where no one asks us for one mother-bleeping thing, where we can either sit by a pool guzzling fruity drinks until we forget we even have children, or lie in bed binge watching Netflix until check out time, as long as no one makes that decision but us.  And we feel guilty for wanting that.

I literally think women are broken.

On the 4th, I listened to my ex and my teenager do their typical, “Mom is so dramatic” schtick.  “I was just lying down for a minute, and Mom came in there about to have a breakdown.”  I take care of everyone.  Everyone.  Even my ex.  Who takes care of me?

That’s the lesson here, Ladies.  I take care of me.  I do.

STOP.  FEELING.  GUILTY.

Take the nap.  Take the trip.  Eat the no-bake cookies with a spoon because they taste just as good that way.  If stuff doesn’t get done, it doesn’t get done.  No one will die but maybe they will see how much Mom does to give them this life.  Maybe more than seeing how much Mom does they might actually see how much of us we give away.  We do it because we love them but we don’t have to be martyrs.  I need this lesson, too.

Let little Billy find his own Pokémon cards, but keep on kissing the boo-boos.