Monday, June 16, 2014

A new light

So I know my next post was supposed to be about LC moving in with us, but I need to delay it to talk about this weekend. (And the weekend wouldn't have been possible without him so I think it's ok.)

Friday was LC’s nieces birthday. She turned 11 and decided she wanted to go to Destiny USA and do the ropes course and the Wonder Works interactive museum. (Yes, it’s as awesome as it sounds.) She had hoped that Bud and Babe could come too, and although it wasn’t my weekend with them, their father let me have them for the night so they could join the fun. I am so very glad we had the opportunity because I learned more about my children in those few hours than ever before.

They are both always up for fun and adventure, but they are also a little hesitant to be TOO wild and crazy. I’ve known for a while that Bud isn’t really scared of heights. I mean, after all, he did climb up the rope swing and touch the branch that was 40 feet in the air!

Bud climbing the rope swing - 2012

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Canyon Climb at Destiny USA via

So yeah, I knew heights weren't a real big deal for him, but I expected him to be a little cautious. 

Because of their height (well, lack of height really), they were both required to be with an adult. LC took Bud and I took Babe. Once we were all strapped in, Bud took off up the stairs to the first platform with LC right behind him. Babe was a little more hesitant as she climbed the big steps up to the platform. By the time we got up there LC and Bud had done several of the obstacles already. We waved and I yelled good job and turned my focus to Babe. She was a little nervous but she was still very excited to do the “big kid rope course.” 

The next time I turned to find Bud, he was WAY ahead and lengthening the distance between him and LC. The boy was on FIRE! He showed no fear as he navigated obstacle after obstacle! I was so impressed with his ability to focus (a real problem in other situations) and his strength and determination with all of the obstacles! I was worried for him, especially because I wasn’t with him to see how he was doing, but every time I found him, he was smiling ear to ear and floating across the ropes! His bravery and determination were a sight to behold!!

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Horrible quality but it was the best I could do.

And then Babe. Wow. Just wow. She’s going to be 5 in a couple of weeks, but this little girl showed you don’t have to be big to show what you are capable of! As I said, she was nervous at first, and she stayed nervous throughout, but her inner strength and determination left me in awe! When we got to the first platform she was scared and holding onto me. I got down with her and asked her which path she wanted to take first (each platform had a variety of obstacle choices). She pointed to the one she wanted to take and I started to move that way. She asked me to hold her arm and I started to get nervous that she wasn’t going to go through with it, but she put one hesitant foot out onto the rope, asked if I had her good, and then proceeded to make her way steadily over the rope. Step by step she made it to the other side, she carefully stepped onto the platform, and then hugged the support pole for dear life. I told her she did a great job and that she made me proud and she smiled and said, “That was scary.” I told her it was a little scary but she did great and I reassured her that she was harnessed in and I would hold her arm or hand over each one.

I asked which path was next and she made her decision and off we went. Again, slow and steady she made her way across. At the next platform she hugged the pole again, but not nearly as desperate this time. Again, I asked her which one and she told me, I moved to get us in position when she said, “Wait! I just need a minute.” I became nervous again that she was going to bail, but she took a minute, and then said “Ok, mom, I’m ready.” Off we went. This is how it continued for the next hour! (Yes, hour!) We’d go over a few obstacles and she’d need to compose herself again but then she’d be right back out there.

I should mention that through this whole thing I was right on her heels the entire time, literally. I had to wait for her foot to move so I could put my foot down. But being right behind her, made it much more unstable as we crossed the ropes. She weighs next to nothing, but I have, ahem, a few pounds on her, so I was weighing down the rope and trying to keep my balance while holding her arm and making sure I didn’t fall myself. A few times I definitely made the rope shake more than I wanted to but she just bent her knees a little more and kept going. The girl was AMAZING!!!

As I said, I started out holding onto her arm as we made our way across, but eventually we got to an obstacle that we needed to go sideways on. I couldn’t hold her arm and keep myself on the rope, so I told her I’d just hang onto her harness strap. She was ok with that and we made our way across. Because she did that so fearlessly, I tried something new on the next one. She asked me to hold onto her again so I told her I would hold onto the ring at the back of her harness, she was fine with that. As we made our way across is became difficult to keep hold of her like that so I let go. I didn’t tell her, of course, and we made it across with no problem. I did the same thing on the next one, and the next one, and then I just let her go. And she went. I have never felt more pride for that child than in that moment. Even though she was scared, even though she preferred me to hold on, she did it all on her own and did it WELL!

I know we all worry for our children and I know we worry that they’ll be able to handle what life will throw at them. But their resilience and determination made me a little less anxious and a lot more proud. It may have been just a small moment in their childhood, but I caught a glimpse of the strong, successful adults they are going to become and I couldn’t be more proud.

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The drive home


Friday, June 6, 2014


Next let’s move on to something a long time coming and, happily, now resolved: my divorce. When I say “happily,” I don’t mean that I’m happy to be divorced. I wish things didn’t go down this way, and I really dislike that I’m going to have to check “Divorced” on any marital status questions. I wish that my kids had both their parents in the same house and didn’t have to deal with everything they now have to deal with. So no, I’m not really happy that I’m divorced. But I had to get divorced. It couldn’t stay the way it was and the past wasn’t going to change. I am capable of forgiveness once, but twice, on something so fundamental, is just beyond my ability. I deserve better. I deserve to be happy. And now I am.

I am happy to be done with the process of divorce. Overall, we have kept things very civil during the whole thing and we didn’t have to take anything to court. We were able to agree to the terms without making it a legal battle. There were some close calls, some nasty words, and even some tears, but we’ve come to agreements on everything that suits us both and I’m confident that we can manage things from here on out. Not without frustration, of course, but we lead relatively simple lives and neither of us cares to create unnecessary drama.

I’m still very close to his family. They’ve been incredibly supportive through this whole thing. They wish that things could have been different, but they know that maintaining a good relationship with me is vital to all of us, for the sake of the kids. It’s all going to be ok because that’s the top priority for all of us. Not only do they provide moral support, they also provide childcare. They watch our kids every day after school and are so integral in our kid’s lives. Having a good relationship with them is so key. I’ve told them for years that we couldn’t do it without them, and nothing has changed there.

The main question everyone has is about the kids. How are they doing? It’s impossible for this situation not to affect them. Babe is too young to really understand any of it, and she seems to adjust really well. I think she’s adaptable in general, so that really helps her to deal with what comes. Bud is struggling a bit more. He’s old enough to remember what it used to be like. A few weeks ago he told me that he wishes we could all be in the same house again, me in the kitchen, my ex in the living room and him playing with his toys. What he doesn’t realize is that I was hiding in the kitchen so I didn’t have to deal with my ex. And my ex was in the living room ignoring all of us. But that was “normal” for us and so Bud misses “normal.” I don’t blame him. Our custody arrangement isn’t the easiest on him either. We split 2 days-2 days-3 days (ensuring we each have the kids for Friday, Saturday, and Sunday every other week). It really works for us, but it isn’t so easy for them to be jumping back and forth between houses. It won’t stay like this, the arrangement will evolve as our lives evolve and the kids grow older. But for now, this is the best arrangement. They get to see us an equal amount of time, and that’s very important to all of us. My ex was a terrible husband, but he’s a very devoted father and I would never take them away from each other.

To add to the custody struggle, my ex had his girlfriend and two (slightly older) children move in. I’ve known his girlfriend for years (she was his sister’s best friend growing up) so they know each other well, and I’ve always gotten along with her and think she’s a good mom. I also think it’s very important to have a working relationship with her. It’s in all of our best interests. Plus, I don’t want to be with my ex in the least, so there is no ill will about it at all. But now my kids suddenly went from being one of two, to being one of four, and the transition hasn’t been easy for Bud. He’s struggling to adjust to a new set of rules in the house he’s lived in for more than half of his life, and he’s struggling with all the “stuff” that she’s brought into the house. He says that she moved in and took over the house. That’s hard for a 7 year old to deal with. I think part of the reason he’s struggling so much is that he’s not as adaptable as Babe. I don’t think her “new rules” are unreasonable, and of course she moved her stuff in. But he doesn’t like that we aren’t together anymore and he can’t get past that to be accepting of all the change. I can’t say I blame him. I just feel awful that I can’t do anything to change it for him.

With all these changes, he’s beginning to have difficulty at school. He’s the smartest boy around, he has no trouble learning, but his focus is non-existent. If the teacher isn’t right on him all the time he does everything but his work. His teacher can’t be on top of him all the time though. We are working with the school to figure out what we can do to help the situation. We’ll see what happens there.

Outside of school he’s doing very well. He is a happy boy and is so damn smart! I have a hard time keeping up with him sometimes! Thank God for Google! He is old enough now to do a lot of things on his own. He makes himself breakfast most mornings (meaning mama gets to sleep in a few extra minutes…holla!!!!) and then he brushes his teeth without being told. I still pick out his clothes because I prefer he not look  like a homeless person, but once his clothes are out he dresses himself. It’s a glorious thing. And we’ve become much closer with all that’s going on. We’ve had some really great conversations and I think that’s helped both of us handle some of the rougher aspects. He’s such a good kid. I know he’ll be ok, but I also have to make sure I keep on top of things so I don’t lose him. I’m not too worried.

So let’s leave this part here. I’m divorced. Now on to the next chapter…


Thursday, June 5, 2014

My mom's fight

A lot has happened in the time I’ve been away. My Italy trip was AMAZING, I’m officially divorced, my boyfriend moved in, and my mother has one less breast than she had at the time of my last post. I have so much to say so I’m going to break this up into a few posts but I need to start with my mom.

My mom was diagnosed with breast cancer in February. Hell of a Valentine’s Day phone call to receive! I knew she was getting a biopsy for a “suspicious spot” but I honestly wasn’t concerned. When she called to tell me they found cancer my world did one of those special-effect things where everything goes really far away and I was almost outside my body. I believe that’s called fear. The scariest part was the fear I heard in my mother’s voice. She’s incredibly practical and logical and to hear her becoming panicky was something I can’t describe. I honestly don’t remember the conversation, everything was a blur. A couple of weeks ago she told me that I did a really good job of calming her down during that call. I’m really glad I was able to do that for her, but I don’t remember a word of it.

Next came more testing and waiting. She had another biopsy to determine if she needed a mastectomy or could get by with a lumpectomy. She was really hoping there wouldn’t be any more spots and she would be able to just have a lumpectomy. The results: more cancer in a different part of her breast. Mastectomy it is.  To throw an added wrinkle in the story. We were about 6 weeks away from our Italy trip. Does she have to miss the trip? Can she recover in time? Or…can it wait? It seems like such a trivial thing to worry about, but it wasn’t. The trip was an all-girls trip, comprised of family and close friends. Ten of us in all, exploring Sicily and sharing an experience that cannot be duplicated. More on the trip itself later, but my mom brought it up to the doctors. They told her they caught it early, very early, so if she wanted to put it off for a few more weeks it would be ok! We all breathed a sigh of relief. Cancer is a bitch to begin with, but don’t start messing with our trip of a lifetime!

Then came the hard decision of which doctor to choose, and the harder decision of whether she wanted to have one breast or both removed. So many woman have both removed, even though cancer is not in the other breast. It’s done for cosmetic reasons only, the chance of getting it in the other breast isn’t any higher than getting it in another part of the body, but it’s a very personal decision. Each woman has to do what is right for her, and there’s not always a clear answer. After much deliberation and discussion with suvivors who’ve been through it, she finally decided on her team of doctors (one to remove the breast and another to do the reconstruction after) and she finally decided to only have one removed. Neither was an easy decision.

The day before the surgery I went down to be with her. She was scared. Have you ever seen your parent scared? It’s not easy. But I did my best to keep her in good spirits and distract her from what was to come. Her surgery lasted about 4 hours total (to remove the breast and then to have the expanders inserted to begin the reconstruction process). My dad and I waited in the waiting room and they called us back to give updates after each part of the surgery. The best news we had received was that they tested her lymph nodes in the process and they came back clean! The cancer wasn’t spreading to other parts of her body! Once she came out of surgery we were able to see her in recovery. THAT was an experience! She was supposed to spend an hour or two there and then be moved to her room where she’d stay the night. They kept saying they’d be moving her soon. After 4 hours they said it was a shift change for the nurses so it was going to be a while longer. Two hours later the nurses in recovery were on the phone to the cancer floor demanding to know why my mom was STILL there. The cancer floor was understaffed and they didn’t have a bed ready for her yet. She finally made it up there and was given the first-class upgrade! Her private room was nicer than any 5-star hotel and her view of the 59th Street bridge was amazing!! It was worth the wait!

She spent one night there and we took her home by noon the next day. She was given exercises to do (to prevent her shoulder from locking and to keep her range of motion) and we were given instructions on how to care for the drain that helps remove all the gunk that accumulates after surgery.

I was able to stay a few more days and then had to go back to work for commencement. College graduation waits for no man or woman who works hard to help organize and distribute diplomas to the graduates! My boss was so understanding and would have let me skip it, except that we are short staffed and I just had to be there. But I headed back to my mom’s the next day and spent several more days trying to get my mom to sit down and relax and not do too much. Do you know what it’s like trying to prevent your mother from taking care of chores and doing little odd jobs around the house? It ain’t easy!

It’s been 3 weeks since her surgery and she’s making a good recovery. There are ups and downs, both physical and emotional. I think the emotional piece has been the hardest for her. She didn’t want this to happen (who does?) and it’s really a grieving process to get through it. I think she’s overcome the hardest parts (I hope anyway) and she continues to be a fighter and be strong.

To be honest, I haven’t worried a whole lot through this whole thing. I guess I just know that my mom will fight however hard she needs to. There’s a reason I’m capable of overcoming all the obstacles in my life, and I thank God every day that I’m becoming more and more like her and that I have the pleasure of still having her here to help me through my stuff, even while she’s fighting her own battle. I don’t mean to imply I’m not worried at all, just that in the back of my mind I know she’s going to be fine. She’s a fighter and she will survive.  

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Italy 2014