Small Victories

I was in the break room when she called. My daughter.

The last few weeks have been one frantic phone call after another. Flat tires, towing bills, car repairs, sorority drama, taxes, stress.

I answer. “Hey! What’s up?”

“Mom, guess what?”

She sounds like she’s near tears. Oh God! Now what?

“I give up. What?”

She’s full on crying now. “I got into nursing school.”

I hear the words but the crying is throwing me off. Maybe I heard it incorrectly and she’s crying because she didn’t get in. I decide to repeat what she’s told me.

“You got in?”

“Yes!”

Tears begin to well up in my eyes as well. I know how hard she’s worked for this. I know how she’s stressed herself out about it, how she doubted herself, how she thought she wouldn’t get in because she didn’t get A’s in everything. “B’s don’t get degrees!” she told me once.

Well, that’s ridiculous. Of course they do! I remember giving her a pep talk back in November when she was stressing out about narrowly making it in. “You know what they call the person who graduates last in their class from medical school? Doctor.” The key to that speech was no matter if she was admitted as the top student or the last one on the list she was going to make a kickass nurse.

She did it. She got admitted to the nursing program. A year and a half of hard work, tough classes, and endless stress thinking she wasn’t good enough has resulted in this amazing announcement.

She is one step closer to realizing her dream. She’s one step closer to financial independence and no longer relying upon her father via his spousal support paid to me.

I was the first person she told. Of course, after I verified that she did indeed get in I had to tell her, “I told you so!” And I had. I never for one moment believed she wouldn’t get in. I always knew she had what it took.

My baby is going to be a nurse. She’s going to be able to support herself and her children, should she decide to have them. She’s not going to make the same mistakes I did. At least not that one.

On the home front my son came up to me last night and declared he wanted me to take him out driving. He said something about not putting it off and confronting his fears.

“What the hell did you guys talk about in therapy today?” was my response.

He assured me it had nothing to do with therapy. This was not an assignment.

This is the boy who has had his learner’s permit since October. Of 2018. He’s driven exactly 45 minutes in that time. He says it terrifies him.

Tonight I came home, changed clothes, ran my entire 28 minutes (yea me! I’m very slow, though) and then we went out driving.

I took him to a parking lot so he could get comfortable with everything, seeing as how he hasn’t driven since July. That lasted for all of 5 or 10 minutes. He was ready to try the actual road.

“Before we begin I just want to make sure. We drive on the right side of the road in this country, right?”

Oh sweet baby Jesus! I thought it was bad enough when I had to clarify yet again which pedal was the brake and which was the gas.

He begins driving in the slower areas of the subdivision. After another 5-10 minutes of this he’s gaining confidence. He tells me he’s feeling pretty good about this driving stuff. I offer to let him drive around in the parking lot some more.

“I’m liking the roads. It’s like a track. It keeps me in line and gives me a guide.”

Yes, the road is very much like a track.

By the end of it he had driven 40 minutes. He nearly doubled his driving time. The most important part though is he was feeling much more confident about driving. He was even offering to go drive somewhere to get food.

Perhaps we will tackle that task in the next lesson or two. I think I will soon have another driver in the family.

Best. Birthday. Gift. Ever.

I went and had a birthday yesterday. I’m now fifty-FUN!

Wednesday night I went out to dinner with some friends of mine from high school. We met at 6:30 and didn’t leave until 10. Surprisingly we didn’t spend a lot of time reminiscing. Some highlights of the evening:

C announcing she wished she was a man because she wants a penis of her own. I don’t know why. I think it has to do with being able to pee anywhere and being able to write your name in the snow. L and I tried to tell her that we could still do that as women, although we did need to clarify if she meant cursive or printing.

Sweet J letting us all know that laundry is her favorite chore. We all looked at her like she had two heads. “Don’t you have a favorite chore?” she asked us all. “No!” we all replied. “They’re chores; they’re not fun! We don’t have a favorite.”

Found out Sweet J won’t buy Tide pods because she thought the problem was they were designed to look like food. We had to explain to her that kids weren’t eating them because they thought they were edible; they were eating them because they’re stupid. Nonetheless, she’s going to hold fast to her Tide pod strike, but she let us all know that she likes the liquid laundry detergent over the powder.

Shortly after this conversation L asked, “Do you remember when we used to talk about going out to bars and who we took home?”

Yes, now we’re talking about laundry detergent and our favorite chore. And menopause.

We had a lot of laughs. It was a good time.

I may not have lived in the same town my entire life but I do feel pretty fortunate to be able to get together with people I’ve been friends with since I was 15, 16, 17 years old.

The next day I got flowers at work from the mobster. They were lovely as always. He also sent me some cooling towels for workouts, and tells me I’m to expect something else tomorrow.

I got lots of Facebook messages and texts wishing me a happy birthday, and my mom called and sang to me on my way to work.

Last night I went out to dinner with my brother and his family. I had told Picasso that depending upon how late dinner ran I might go to the gym and walk on the treadmill. He asked me why I didn’t go downtown and play Pokemon instead.

Well, I don’t usually do that in the middle of the week. Plus, I didn’t want to go down there by myself. He offered to go with me. I was plenty excited about that!

Then during dinner it began to snow so I told him it didn’t look like we would be going downtown after all.

As we were getting ready to leave I turned on the game. I told him there was a PokeStop in the restaurant so I wanted to get it. Shortly after that he turns to me and says, “I’m not getting any reception in here,” and he shows me his phone, which is open to Pokemon Go!

“You’re playing!” I shrieked happily.

I have been begging this kid to play Pokemon Go with me. He has friends that play. One of his very best friends plays. When the mobster was up earlier this month we ran into three kids Picasso knew; they were begging him to play. He has staunchly refused, saying he’s played it before and he doesn’t like it.

For my birthday he played Pokemon Go with me. We went downtown and walked around for about 2 hours. He did a raid with me. We battled in a gym. He was so cute. He was afraid he didn’t have high enough Pokemon to take part in a Level 1 raid. “Don’t worry, buddy. Mama’s got ya!” At the end of the night we stopped at the Chocolate Cafe where I bought him a hot chocolate. It tastes just like a melted candy bar. It was the best birthday gift ever. The willingness to play Pokemon, not the hot chocolate. Even better was the fact that he later told me he actually had fun and planned to keep playing.

Yes! I have converted him!

A Picture Is Worth a Thousand Words

 

20191103_210250.jpgThis picture is the essence of who my daughter once was. It was taken just a few months after we moved from Virginia to Indiana. A few months after gymnastics was taken away from her forever.

She started gymnastics the first time around as soon as she turned three. It lasted about 3 months. The class tended to take place at the time she was just waking up from her nap and she was a beast upon waking. I decided it wasn’t worth it.

Fast forward almost a year. Her preschool class took a field trip to that gym. She loved it. I asked her if she’d like to take lessons again. She enthusiastically replied, “Yes!”

Her coach was a real cutie patootie. After she had gone through the entire program for kids her age it was time to decide if she wanted to sign up for some more recreational lessons, or if she wanted to start training for team gymnastics. I explained to her that if she wanted to do rec Chad wouldn’t be her coach any longer because he taught the preschool program and the team girls. She wanted to do team gymnastics.

“Do you want to do team gymnastics because you really like gymnastics, or because you really like Chad?” I asked her, knowing that participation on the team would require a much bigger commitment.

“I really like gymnastics,” she replied. “But I really like Chad, too,” she admitted.

That’s how we ended up spending tens of thousands of dollars on gymnastics over the years.

She made the transition from the gym in Michigan to the gym in Utah with a few tears. It was difficult starting over. Meeting new coaches. Getting used to them. Meeting new teammates.

She was at that gym for 8 years. She spent countless hours there. Gymnastics was her life. Her final three years in Utah she was an Optional. She was at the gym no less than 20 hours a week. In the summer it was 25. Her friends were her gymnastics teammates. Very few people outside of the gym permeated that friendship circle.

For eight years she lived and breathed gymnastics. She progressed from a little girl who couldn’t do a cartwheel, much less a back handspring to a young lady who was doing whips and fulls on floor, back tucks on beam, giants on bars and a Yurchenko on vault.

Then we took it all away from her. We moved to Virginia to a town that didn’t have a JO gymnastics program. They had high school gymnastics though and she dove into that. At one point she even did Excel, saying all she wanted to do was compete. But once again she was being asked to trust new coaches, only this time around the skills were a lot more challenging than a cartwheel.

That lasted for two years. We had to leave our home shortly after she found out she was being named co-captain for her high school gymnastics team. There was no high school gymnastics and I couldn’t afford competitive gymnastics any longer. It was over. Twelve years of gymnastics, over in the blink of an eye. Her love, her passion, was abruptly taken away. She never replaced it with anything else.

I love that picture of her. It captures who she was so perfectly. You could take gymnastics away from her but she would always find a way. She lost competitive gymnastics but embraced high school gymnastics. Then that was taken away from her when we moved from Virginia to Indiana. Yet, out there in a cornfield she used a log as a balance beam and leaped.

I feel like this picture represents something I can’t put into words. Perseverance? The ability to soldier on even when everything you care about has been taken from you? The ability to get back up when life knocks you down? A strong will? Loss? Refusing to be defeated? I don’t know.

What I do know is she loved this. It was her life. And now it’s over. Her father took it away from her to meet his own selfish needs.

Keep leaping, my beautiful girl. Keep dreaming and improvising.

P.S. She nailed the landing, in case you were wondering.

I’d Take a Bullet For You

Oh, the interesting conversations I have with my kids.

Conversation #1

A few weeks ago my daughter called me to thank me for raising her to be a strong, independent woman. Apparently a bunch of people she knows have chosen to return home instead of remaining at college. The reason cited for the return? Homesickness.

She went on to say that in almost every single case the person returning home didn’t get involved at school. That was my moment to jump in and take credit. “What did I tell you?” She agreed that I had indeed begged her to get involved, to go out and participate in everything she possibly could at least that first week. As I wisely pontificated, “ Please give it a chance. Take advantage of every outing, every get together, every event planned for the first week. After that first week if you decide you just want to hang out in your room and watch Netflix, fine. But get out there that first week.”

She decided to go through recruitment (what was once known as “rush”) and has never once looked back since.

Conversation #2

I have come to the conclusion that I am a very bad driver. I didn’t used to think this but it is becoming more and more apparent.

I picked up Picasso from one of his after school events. There are a lot of stop signs with cross streets that don’t stop. I was at one such stop sign and began crossing when halfway across the road I realized there was a car coming towards me. I put the pedal to the metal and made it across.

Now, keep in mind the driver didn’t have to slam on their brakes. The driver didn’t have to swerve to miss me. I cut it close but we were in no danger of almost crashing. Even so the driver was not pleased and laid on the horn.

As we continue down these narrow streets, stopping every block for the stop signs I’m pointing out to my son how all of these houses look newly refurbished, which is something I was talking about with him recently. I was almost at the end of the block and ready to turn and, of course, coming upon another stop sign when I hear a car honking furiously behind me. I’m thinking there’s no way I have taken too long so what the hell is wrong?

That’s when the driver of the car from earlier pulls up beside me! She’s yelling and gesturing to me to roll down my window. I’m thinking, “No.” I’m not getting into it with some stranger that is obviously crazy enough that she’s willing to chase me down on a residential street.

I pull on up to the next stop sign and she’s still behind me, honking. I think it was at this point Picasso told me I should have a gun. I told him I had mace and he told me that wasn’t going to help if she pulled a gun. “Well, no, but if she doesn’t have a gun then my mace will be just fine,” I replied.

I turn right with the crazy bitch behind me. She begins to pass me on the right, trying to come up alongside me.

Again, I remind you, she did not have to slam on her brakes. She did not have to swerve to miss me. It wasn’t like we almost crashed and died.

As she’s pulling up beside me I decided I had had enough. I punched it once again and she was either going to have to slow down or run up onto the sidewalk or into the cars. I really didn’t care which one she chose. I did blow through a stop sign after I sped up.

Maybe she figured I was crazy at that point, or she felt she had completed her mission. At any rate she gave up the chase.

Once home Picasso told me that’s why I needed a gun. Eh. Probably not the best idea under the circumstances. Nonetheless, he told me he was getting into a defensive posture in case she did pull a weapon. “I was ready to take a bullet for you, Mom.”

I was touched. I also let him know that it was my job as the parent to take a bullet for him, not the other way around.

It’s sad, though. He can’t stand his father, refers to him by name, and wants nothing to do with him. He’d take a bullet for me, though. And he wasn’t just spewing shit. He really thought it was possible the situation could escalate to that point and he was getting prepared.

CF doesn’t have that with his kids. I tell myself all the time I am the real winner in all of this, no matter what, because my kids love me; they think the world of me. Yet, I also realize CF doesn’t care about stuff like that. Those are my values. That’s what is important to me. Harley and money is what is important to him.

Conversation #3

Picasso spends a lot of time in his room playing games on the XBox with his friends. Sometimes I feel like I’m failing him because I don’t drag him out of his room. There have been times when I’ve asked him if he wants to go get something to eat and he’ll reply, “Nah, I don’t really want to go anywhere.” There have been times when I’ve asked him if he wants to go see a movie and he’ll tell me there’s nothing out he really wants to see.

I know he’s much more of an introvert than his sister so I don’t push. Plus, it gives me a chance to decompress as well. But I do end up feeling guilty some days.

We had a rare day when he was out at the table and we were talking so I asked him how he felt I was doing as a parent. He’s a very literal kid so I find him very funny most of the time.

“On what kind of a scale?”

“What kind of a grade would you give me? A, B, C, D, or F?”

“Oh. Well, an A. You’ve kept me alive.”

“I would think the standards would be a little higher than just simply, ‘I kept you alive.’ Do you feel like I’m around enough? Give you enough attention? Am I engaged enough with you?”

Everyone should be pleased to know that I passed with flying colors. He feels I’m doing a bang up job of parenting him. I’m around plenty and he knows he can talk to me. He also assured me that he’s not barricading himself into his room and being a hermit. He’s playing with friends. He’s laughing and having a good time, which makes me feel a lot better.

We’ve been to two movies since that conversation and get this! He’s agreed to go see “Gone With the Wind” with me!

My Mamaw loved that movie. My mom used to say she believed she was Scarlett O’Hara. Close to twenty years ago she was visiting me down in Olive Branch. The local theater was playing “Gone With the Wind” on the big screen so I took her, knowing how much she loved the movie. It was the first time I ever saw it at the theater.

I never thought I would be carrying on the tradition with my son but hot damn, I’ll take it!

Conversation #4

The day Rock Star returned to school after winter break was rapidly turning into a disaster. She was picking on her brother and he was almost in tears. I was upset because we were out to breakfast before heading to take her back. All I wanted was a nice meal with my two children.

I barely said a word for the first 2 1/2 hours of our 2 hour and 45 minute trip. After I pulled over at the rest area to go to the bathroom and came back to the car I decided to break the ice.

She immediately burst into tears. “I miss you! I miss you so much! It’s not fair. I only get you for this one day and he gets you for the next two years!”

I was gobsmacked. She is loving college life. She loves her sorority. She loves the girls she’s met through AOPi. She is beaming and thriving. I reminded her of all of this.

“I know. And I do love it. But I still miss you!”

Maybe I shouldn’t be pleased that she misses me still. Perhaps it is a very bad sign that she will never launch because I have created such a dependence in her on me.

I don’t care, though. I know she’s having an amazing time at college. I’m still pleased to hear she loves me and misses me and wishes I were around more. When you hear all the negative stories going around about kids who can’t stand their parents I’m glad mine adore me.

Conversation #5

You may find this one a little sad. It is another conversation between me and Picasso involving his father.

I know I have written about not forcing a relationship on your kids and to not try to smooth things over between them and the other parent. It’s not your job to spackle. I don’t but I also don’t want my kids to feel like they will be betraying me by having a relationship with their dad.

On yet another chatty night we were talking about CF. Picasso was holding a small box and he remarked that the only thing CF had taught him was how to fold a box. At that moment I decided it needed to be said. I would suck it up if either of my kids wanted to see their father and there are times I worry that they feel I’ll be angry if they ever did choose to have a relationship with him. I very seriously told Picasso: You know, I won’t be upset if you want to have a relationship with him. You don’t have to worry that I will feel like you are betraying me.

“Oh, I wouldn’t feel like I was betraying you. I would feel like I was betraying myself,” he replied. “I abhor him.”

He went on to explain that he once felt sorry for his dad because he seemed so sad and so broken. He bought into the PTSD explanation his dad was selling the last few months before DDay. But, once he realized his dad was faking he became very angry. He said it was sick to do something like that, to pretend you have a very serious mental health diagnosis and to use that to justify your behavior. He also said he didn’t appreciate his dad cheating on me or him leaving the state and not saying a word to them. He ended his explanation by saying, “It all culminated in a perfect maelstrom.”

I was as impressed with his explanation as I was with his vocabulary.

“Wow, nice use of the word maelstrom.”

“You like that? I like that word but it’s hard to find an occasion to use it in a sentence. I’m surprised you didn’t say anything about me using abhor.”

“Eh. Not that big of a word. Maelstrom impressed me, though.”

Like I said, I have some interesting conversations with my kids.

Driving Lessons

I am having a week long celebration countdown to my birthday. Wednesday was milkshakes. Thursday Picasso had a cello lesson so the only “celebration” was grabbing Culver’s because the line at Chick-Fil-A was obscenely long.

What the hell is up with long lines at Chick-Fil-A anyway? It’s not like this is a new company. It wasn’t a Saturday night so people weren’t standing in line, hoping to get their chicken fix before they shut down on Sunday. Maybe they were giving away free chicken sandwiches or something because the drive-thru was insane and when we parked and started to go inside Picasso said to me, “Mom, look at how many people are in there!” It was a mob of people waiting in line!

Back to the topic at hand, which was my birthday countdown. Thursday night (or rather Friday morning since it was after midnight) Picasso texted me and told me he’d like to see a movie on Friday. He wanted to see “How To Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World”. We ended up getting tickets for the 10:45 show. Yes, I know; it’s ridiculously late. However, he wanted to go to the theater with the reclining seats and we had to book that far out to get decent seats. I am not a fan of the front row, with my head wrenched back for the next 2 hours. As we pulled in to the parking lot he lays this on me: Maybe after the movie I could practice driving in the parking lot.

As you may recall he has not driven a single minute since getting his permit back in October. Therefore, I jumped at this opportunity. Finally! Baby boy was getting behind the wheel!

At approximately 11:55 the driving lesson began. I got to explain which pedal was the gas and which one was the brake. I briefly explained the gearshift. He put it into drive and began driving forward at about 2 miles per hour. Suddenly the bell goes off, alerting me to the fact he doesn’t have his seatbelt on.

“Did you forget to put your seatbelt on?” I ask him.

“Oh shit!” he cries out in return. Slams.on.the.brakes. Seriously. I’m pretty sure I almost got whiplash. “Oh crap! These brakes are really sensitive!”

Next lesson was to practice braking. He did a much better job once he figured out he didn’t need to push down full force.

He drove around the parking lot a bit, never going much above 5 miles per hour. At one point he was going to try to turn right but decided that there were too many obstacles in the way. We ended up turning left and went around the building. He thought maybe we weren’t supposed to be back there.

“Sure we’re allowed to be back here. Look- they have parking spaces.”

“They’re probably for the employees.”

Once we made it around the building he decided he wanted to practice putting it into reverse.

Finally he decided to make it back to where he started. This is when the real fun began.

For starters he was hugging the curb as another car was heading in the opposite direction. I could feel my tires starting to rub. I let him know- calmly- that he needed to pull over towards the left a little bit.

Then there was another car heading our way. Plus, the last of the people were leaving the theater. He referred to them as “obstacles”. As in, “Great! Even more obstacles in my way.”

He decided to just stop and let the other car pass him by and also waited until all the pedestrians were safely across the road before he took off again.

He did make a right hand turn and then parked where he started.

After we were done I asked him if he felt a little more confident now that he had actually driven a bit.

“I feel more terrified now,” was his response. He went on to ask why his sister and cousin drive so fast (the speed limit is what I believe he was referring to) and why we even needed cars. He also wanted to know why we couldn’t live more like in medieval times where you would walk everywhere and you lived in town so everything was a short walk away.

I did tell him that he might feel more comfortable if we could find some isolated country roads. That way he could drive without traffic. He could drive at a normal speed and he would be driving in a straight line. All plusses, I believe.

His reply regarding my suggestion we find some country roads? “Are they going to take me home?”

Brrrr!!!

I live in one of the states that is being affected by the polar vortex. Temperatures yesterday got down to -47 degrees with the wind chill. Mail delivery has been suspended. School has been out since Tuesday. The mall is closed. Some of the banks are closed as well. The one I work for is not, but they did shorten the work hours to 11-4.

I had already put in for vacation for the 31st and 1st, but with the polar vortex coming and talk of a possible state of emergency I didn’t want to be stuck at home come Wednesday, so Picasso and I took off Tuesday after work and headed down to the mobster’s. We stopped just shy of the West Virginia border to spend the night and made the rest of the journey the following day.

Traveling with Picasso has been interesting. I made the observation when we stopped for the night that checkout wasn’t until noon, not that we would need that. The next morning we get ready, go downstairs to eat breakfast, and then once back to the room I asked him if he was ready to grab our bags and get out of there.

I thought we couldn’t leave until noon.

No, I said checkout was at noon. That means we have to leave by noon; however, we can leave any time we want. This is not the Hotel California.

What’s the Hotel California?

Oh dear sweet Jesus! To his credit (and my surprise!) he did know it was a song. I ended up in a philosophical discussion with my 16-year old about what the Hotel California actually represents. All because of a damn late checkout time!

He spent most of his time on his Switch so I was totally shocked when he broke into song once we crossed the river into West Virginia.

Country roads, take me home

To the place I belong

West Virginia, mountain momma

Take me home country roads

Number one, where in the hell did he learn the lyrics to this song? It’s old! It’s John Denver! Second, I was totally baffled by where he was going with this until I heard “West Virginia.” That kid has a keen mind, and an amazing music library.

We had some good conversations. We talked about his dad a little bit. At one point he said, “How sad is it that I don’t even remember if he was around for Thanksgiving or Christmas?”

The mobster requested we stop and take a picture at Lover’s Leap. It’s a scenic overlook about 45 minutes from his house. I rolled my eyes but I did it. Hey, it’s cold up there on that mountain!

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He is a funny guy. I had Picasso text him and ask him how to get in the house if we should arrive before him or T. He texts back: Break the window on the left. He always makes me smile.

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We went out to dinner shortly after he got home from work with two of his kids and his son’s girlfriend. We had seafood, of all things. I got the shrimp but wish I had followed my son’s lead and chosen the broiled catfish. It was really good. The shrimp was listed as jumbo shrimp but they were not jumbo. They also didn’t have much flavor. Oh well. I stuck with my low-carb eating plan. Yesterday, anyway.

One of T’s friends came over after the basketball game when she heard I was in town. She said she wanted to come over and say hi. We figured out that we hadn’t seen each other since May last year. That made me feel good. The fact that she made a point to come see me, not that we hadn’t seen each other since May.

I fell completely off the wagon today. I had toast for breakfast, plus flavored creamer in my coffee. On top of all of that the mobster and I met for lunch at Hardee’s. I had my favorite- the mushroom and swiss.

Tonight the mobster, his daughter and I are going to see Kane Brown in concert. That should be a good time. I’m looking forward to it.

Tomorrow morning I’m heading to Whoreville to pick up my divorce file. That should be an awesome read! It will probably supply plenty of material for future blog posts.

There is a possibility I will get to see one of my favorite cousins. I’m not holding my breathe but she is working in a nearby city so if nothing else I can always stop by the pharmacy and say hello.

After that Picasso and I are going to head to our favorite restaurant in town. I’ve talked about it before. It’s an all you can eat Japanese steakhouse style restaurant. They don’t actually cook in front of you but they do cook to order. I may splurge and go ahead and order my favorite sushi roll which isn’t on the lunch buffet but I know of no other place that makes it.

We’ll head back to the mobster’s by 1 because the three of us are going to see Paula Poundstone in Roanoke later tomorrow evening. I haven’t seen her in ages. Ironically, the only time I ever saw her in concert was when CF and I were still married; even more shocking is the fact that we went together! He wasn’t always a dud that hid in the bedroom. Remember, according to him everything didn’t start falling apart until we had kids.

Saturday is up in the air. We might go see a hockey game. We might stay at home and watch movies and eat pizza. We’ll see.

All I know is I’m not suffering through minus 40 degree temperatures! Plus, I’m with the mobster. That’s always a good feeling.

Stay warm, everybody!

A Tale Of Two Christmases, Part 2

With all that’s been going on with the child support modification and Mr. CF being his usual douche-y self it’s easy to say evil always wins. It’s easy to fall back into thinking that he gets away with everything.

I’m getting a lot less per month than I was originally told. I’m probably going to end up paying my own legal fees to get this lesser amount of money. And who the hell knows how much longer this is all going to go on?

It doesn’t matter. In the end I’ve ended up with the better deal. I took Rock Star and Picasso out to dinner the night she got home from school. We sat there eating, talking, and laughing. Both kids were talking about how they bought me the best gift ever. Rock Star insisted she had outdone herself this year and I was going to love her gift to me. Picasso, in turn, said no way, that the gift he bought me was going to the best gift I had ever received.

Christmas Eve came and we opened gifts. Picasso had bought me a Sega Genesis. We had been to a store like Game Stop where I had seen one and told him how much I had once enjoyed playing Ms. Pac-Man on our Sega Genesis years ago. He commented that it would make a good Christmas gift and I concurred. The Ms. Pac-Man game had been sold so I still need to grab that, but I’ve got the main part!

Rock Star’s gift to me was a necklace. It’s a round silver necklace with a heart cut out from the center. Rock Star has a necklace that goes with mine; hers is the heart cut out from mine. As she explained to me after I opened it: Now I’ll always have a part of you with me wherever I go.

He can be a pain in the ass and drag crap out. He can accuse me of spending all of “his” money on meetups with my boyfriend. He can insist upon paying the bare minimum in child support so that his whore and her kids can have more of his paycheck. He can do his best to make my life hell. He can even continue on with his snide comments.

It’s only money. He’ll always have more money than me. He’ll also always be married to a cheating whore (well, unless she dumps him). And I will always have my kids who will continue to compete over who can buy me the best Christmas gift. Because they love me and I’m important to them. I know it doesn’t matter to him, but it matters to me. As far as I’m concerned I will always come out ahead for that very reason.

Life Is Good

I was browsing through some recent pictures recently. I’m not sure what I was looking at but this feeling of peace came over me. It suddenly hit me- I’m happy. I’m content. Despite CF’s ongoing antics (more on that later), and despite my precarious financial situation I’m happy.

I have my family around me. Just last week my niece and my mom went on the Wine Walk with me. That’s something I never would have experienced still married to CF. We go out to dinner to celebrate birthdays and big events- my kids and myself, my mom, my brother and his family. We travel for other events like graduations together as well. My daughter’s relationship with her cousin is more like that of sisters instead of cousins. Both of my kids get to finish growing up around their grandmother, uncle, aunt, and cousins. Had CF and I remained married those are things they wouldn’t have had. We would never have moved back to this area.

The mobster and I are doing great over a year into our relationship. If we’ve both been wearing masks then they are staying firmly in place. We still talk several times a day. We still laugh. We still get together as often as possible. In fact, he’s coming to Rock Star’s Family Weekend with me this weekend. He is truly the best thing that’s ever happened to me. He used to always say, “Except for your kids,” in the early days, and I would reply, “My kids don’t count. They didn’t happen to me; I made them!” I tell him everything. He calms me down when I’m freaking out, and I like to think I calm him down when he’s freaking out. He’s funny, sweet, romantic, and loving. He even butters my biscuits for me.  He is the love of my life.

I’m reconnecting with friends, both old and new. I try to be conscious about reaching out.  I know I tend to get in a rut and expect others to reach out but I’m doing more of the reaching nowadays. My best friend and I discovered SnapChat (not like we didn’t know it existed before) and now we SnapChat every day. We love playing with the filters.

I still like my job. It doesn’t happen to pay me over $100,000 a year but I like it. The day goes by quickly and I feel like I’m actually doing something. I fight fraud, dammit! I’m actually not bad at it.

My two dogs are still alive and kicking.

My kids are doing well. They are my greatest achievement.

Picasso had to take the bus to school the first two weeks of school and ended up reconnecting with an old friend from middle school. He began cello lessons and despite bellyaching about them the first day he really likes them. He still spends way too much time on his Xbox but overall, he seems pretty happy. He likes his classes a lot better this year and aside from English, where he conveniently forgot to do his summer assignment, he has good grades. Hopefully, he will have enough time to improve his English grade. He also made the decision to cut about 6 inches off his hair. He said he didn’t want to look like teenage Jesus. Unfortunately, he now thinks he looks like a 1960s woman. My mom told him she didn’t know what the big deal was because he used to look like a 1970s woman. I think he simply looks adorable.

Rock Star is loving college. She just went through sorority recruitment and accepted a bid from her top choice. I’m ecstatic for her. She is very happy down there. For that I am grateful. After the last three years she deserves some happiness. I happened to take a look at her Instagram page today at lunch and she had posted a picture of her and all her new sorority sisters. The messages she received in response were heartwarming. All these new sisters of hers reaching out and welcoming her home. My heart swelled with happiness and my eyes almost overflowed with joy.

In other exciting news, with my daughter off to college I have moved from the couch to an actual bed. It’s very cozy with three dogs but it will undoubtedly be nice come winter with three furry bodies snuggled up to me.

That is it for me. Just a short little update letting everyone know I am happy.

Yet Another Thing Stolen

I was perusing Facebook the other day when I came across a picture from a longtime friend. It was a picture of her son and his friends playing football. She said something to the effect of, “To some it’s just a picture of four boys playing football. To me it’s an end of an era.” She had watched for years as her son and those boys had played football in her front yard. Now they would all be leaving for college. She cried as she said goodbye to her son’s friends, having known them pretty much their entire lives. She wasn’t just sending her own child off on a new adventure. She was sending off all of these kids that had been a part of her life through her kids.

I smiled wistfully because I knew exactly what she meant. My house was once the neighborhood gathering spot. I had kids in and out all the time. I was usually the designated chauffeur. I can’t say that I had known my kids’ friends their entire lives because we moved when the kids were 4 and 6, but their friends had been around for a long time before we left for Virginia. Even in Virginia Rock Star had a close group of friends that were around quite a bit.

Then we moved here. She graduated. The silence was deafening. I didn’t get to cheer for other kids. I didn’t know any of the others. All the kids I had watched grow up were 1500 and 600 miles away. I missed graduation parties and college send offs. I missed the final year of gymnastics for so many of the girls that my daughter grew up with. I missed a Senior Night that meant anything. She had only been there a year when the first Senior Night happened. She felt no school spirit. She didn’t care about those people. It was going through the motions; she couldn’t even mention all her accomplishments because what happened at her previous school didn’t count.

She did not want a graduation party. Other people insisted she needed one. We caved. It sucked. It’s a little difficult to have a huge celebration when you’ve been someplace for only two years.

The last three graduation parties I’ve been to the graduates have had a joint party with one or two other friends. The guest list was extensive. The food was catered. The decorations were beautiful. At least two of them had games and music.

My niece organized Rock Star’s party. She did a beautiful job with the decorations. Alas, it rained so most of her work was undone and then re-done inside. That pretty much eliminated the games from Rock Star’s party. I couldn’t afford a DJ. Or a photo booth which I really wanted. I spent hundreds on food; the sub and potato salad was store bought, as were the cookies and cake. But I made several dips and salads, and my brother provided grilled chicken and macaroni and cheese. Most disappointing though was the guest list.

We had a total of 32 people that attended, including myself. She had eight friends plus her boyfriend show up, and her friends all showed up the last hour- 6 of them showing up in the last 20-30 minutes. I didn’t really have any friends to invite. Almost all of them live in Utah. I invited two of my friends from high school; one showed up. The mobster came up as promised. Her boyfriend’s family came as well. The rest was family. I didn’t really need a graduation party for that. It wasn’t a horrendous day, and nothing horrible happened, but in the back of my mind I kept thinking, “I can’t believe I spent all this money on such a disappointing party.” It was absolutely a waste of money and time.

These are the little things people don’t mention when they are extolling the virtues of the “exuberant defiance” of affairs. It’s kinda messy and fairly sad, so they prefer to focus on the the ol’ standby of happiness. Who can argue with that?

Yes, he shat all over his daughter’s life… but look how HAPPY he is!

High school graduation is but a blip in the course of a person’s life. Childhood will be a fading memory. Focus on the future! The important thing is HAPPINESS!

Just as you’ve gotta break a few eggs to make an omelette, you’ve gotta shatter a few lives to make yourself happy.

I do try to remember that, you know? I repeatedly tell myself that while it wasn’t what I was expecting high school is a mere four years and it’s over before you know it. It isn’t necessarily a foreshadowing of your life to come. Stop being dramatic, Sam, and just get with the program. So what if you didn’t get to see the kids your kids grew up with graduate? Big deal! There are worse things in life. Yep, life got screwed up by the cheating asshole ex you married but stop dwelling on it and focus on the positives.

Your kid is alive. She graduated. She will hopefully have an amazing time at college. God knows she is so excited about it. Her graduation party was a disappointment but you were expecting that. It’s all over and done so stop whining and get on with life.

It doesn’t work for the most part. I still hate his fucking guts at times like this. I’m okay with that for now.

 

My Darling Daughter

My daughter is leaving in a few days. I might throw up a few posts here and there about her and all her wonderfulness in her honor.

I wanted to share with everyone a conversation we had during our week together. I was telling her that I was about at the end of my budget for her. That girl can shop! She tells me, “Mom, only four more years and then I can start buying you things.” She wasn’t just talking about buying me a candy bar or a gift card. She was seriously telling me that after she graduates from nursing school she was willing to take care of me and buy me all the things I can no longer afford. I was very touched but told her it was my job to take care of her, and that when she started a family of her own she wouldn’t want to be burdened by taking care of her mother, who should be able to stand on her own two feet.

She is seriously thinking of being a traveling nurse once she graduates, and at this point in time she has offered to have me live with her, travel with her. I’m honored that she feels that way and wants to spend so much time with me.

Alas, I do have another child and I’m not sure I would be allowed to bring him. Sure, he’d be in college by the time she graduated but I don’t think I could really set him loose at that point with no home base. Plus, there’s the mobster. I do love that man. I don’t think he’d be very happy to sell his house and business to move up to where I am and then have me turn around 3 years later and take off to travel the world with my daughter. Although….

… with all expenses paid I should have enough money that I could fly back several times a month to see him. And he could serve as a home base for Picasso. They could play video games together. I wouldn’t even be missed. Houston, I think I’ve solved the problem!

Just kidding.