Sunday, May 30, 2010

It's my Birthday Present to Myself

I spent a great afternoon yesterday with two girlfriends that I love very dearly. The three of us became friends as adults - we met at work almost seven years ago - and what moves me about these friendships is how honest they are. We three were hired at the same time and shared a workspace, and we all are close in age and were in similar places in our lives when we met. These factors came together to create among us a sisterhood that I deeply value. They know me so well and understand my personality, and we are able to talk openly about ourselves and our lives. I know when I'm with them that they're going to call me on my b.s., give it to me straight, give me thoughtful advice -- and at no point will they judge me. I think it's rare as adults to cultivate friendships where you know you can be yourself and be accepted. I love them for that.

Anyway. It was one of their birthdays, and we settled on lunch and an afternoon of shopping. While there are a couple of clothing items on my wish list (namely, pants that fit), there's really been nothing I need, so I figured I'd help them find what they wanted and maybe get something for Max. (I'm watching my wallet, yo!)

So all was good and I felt happy that yet again I was being frugal and thoughtful, when I see the ring. It's an impressive piece with white stones (something I really really like), and I'm immediately drawn to it. It's just so pretty! But it's also like $28, and I don't know that I want to spend the money. The girls are telling me how pretty it looks on me, that I should go for it. And in my head, I utter the phrase that I know I will utter a few more times over the next couple of months: "O.k., I'll get it; it's my birthday present to myself."

I think it, and I totally believe it and I buy the ring as my birthday remains two months away.

Man, I do this every year, and this year, it seems like it's begun a bit too early. From now till about the first week in August, any random treat I'd like that I rationally think is unnecessary, I will justify with, "it's my birthday present to myself."

Blegh. I suck.

(and I'll be in NYC in late July and am already trying to figure out how on earth I'll be able to distract Max enough so I can escape to H&M and get myself some great new duds... you know, for my birthday.)

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Posted by Tere @ 5/30/2010   | | | links to this post

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Things That Make Me Feel Better When I’m in a Foul Mood

1. A supremely unhealthy lunch from McDonald’s.

2. The fascinating guy I keep seeing around my workplace who I’m sure would make an excellent drag queen, and who might already be one.

3. Max discovering yesterday (albeit at bedtime, when he should’ve been falling asleep) how to burp at will. For a good half-hour last night and an hour this morning, can you guess what I’ve been subjected to? He laughed especially heartily when he saw for himself that Mommy could not burp at will.

4. Paul Simon’s Graceland. That’s one of my Top 10 Most Favorite Songs Ever. The second verse alone is enough for me; it makes my heart pound to the brink of bursting. There’s no such thing as listening to that song just once.

(and now I'm once again reminded about this post I'm dying to finish about all these songs I love, and about how music played such an important role in my recent healing process, and how music played an important role in past awful times/healing, and really, how music plays an important role in every aspect of my life. But for the life of me, I just haven't completed it - mainly because I want to be extra super sure I mention every song I want to discuss, and also, because I'm just dragging on it.)

As for why I've been in a foul mood.... ay. It's the story of being Tere. Because one random thing that unexpectedly gets in my way opens like a portal to the darkness inside me. Because once that portal opens, there's no way to keep the crappy thoughts in check. I become this ball of negativity, totally cynical, and it's just really hard to shift back to the healthier, more hopeful me I've become over the last eight or so years.

It seems that no matter how I grow, or what kind of effort I put into dealing with my issues and getting over things and not letting the past get to me and using certain techniques to manage my anxiety and generally gloomy and worried outlook on things -- there are things too deep and strong inside me to ever really go away. And I know this -- I've known for a long time and it was long ago that I accepted that the best I could ever really hope for was that I would not let this aspect of myself consume me or be the thing that defined the way I lived my life or looked at the world around me. When I look at the last couple of years in my life and at the way I handled most of it, it feels nearly miraculous. Because I know. I know how I could've handled all this, the attitudes I could have taken on, the choices I could've made. I know all the darkness and despair that tugged at me that I refused to pay heed to.

Hhhmmm.... that right there cheers me up. And the sushi that's on its way has me almost-giddy with anticipation. And the man right next to me whom I just played Jeopardy! with and who keeps grabbing my hand and covering it with kisses -- he totally cheers me up.

All right. The crappy mood and dark thoughts must be put away now. They have no place here.

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Posted by Tere @ 5/27/2010   | | | links to this post

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Like the Regular Moms

I've been watching my social life dwindle down to nothing these last two years. Well, early on, in the first months of "the end of life as I knew it," there was that typical phase where my friends were out in full force, determined to take me out and not let me mope around; and I was many times desperate to not be too alone in my house, so I took as many offers as I could. In the first year, there were periods where I was indeed quite the social butterfly; and, while I sadly did not go absolutely bonkers and party night after night after night, or get totally sh*tfaced every time I went out, it was fun.

I think in that first year I was making more of an effort than I have been this last year; it seemed like an important part of the healing, to be around people and learn to feel normal and interesting and feminine again. But over the last year, things have changed.

Jevo is, of course, a big part of this change. The interesting thing to me about this is that for a good chunk of time, he was probably the person I went out with the most, but we were just friends, and honestly, we needed to be out for much the same reasons. It worked for each of us because we got out, had a good time, and there was no dating-related pressure. I think we each mellowed out at around the same time, though we hung out as always... until the moment where everything changed. And as our relationship has changed, and with it, our lives, we've definitely become more domestic. No surprise here, though some weeks, I swear, I feel too domestic, because I do tend to go stir-crazy.

The other big thing is Max. Of course. My rule all along has been, no social outings on the days I have him. I've been extremely strict about this rule, breaking it only for things involving very good friends (birthday dinners and the like). I've felt all along that if I have my son only half the time, then that time should be his and only his. And the passage of time seems to have intensified this feeling: I've noticed lately how adamant I am about this, how I refuse to do anything that can't include Max and how I agonize when I have something I must attend to but can't include him. Every time that happens, I feel like I am taking something from him, like I'm not properly cherishing the time (the little, little time) we have together.

It's felt for a good while like most opportunities to get out and about have come on Max days. I say "no" a lot, to parties, blogging-related things, random social gatherings, offering only, "I have Max that day" as an explanation. As if that should be enough. As if others are expected to get, and accept and agree that on a Max day, there's room for nothing else.

And yet for me, there isn't anything else. I am a mother I don't want to be, a half-mother, and the only way I can mitigate that somehow is to devote my time with him solely to him, even if all we're doing is hanging out at home, just the two of us (or the three of us). (Of course, that's not to say that we're literally attached to each other the whole time or that I don't get distracted or frustrated or exhausted and desperate for a break, because all that is true, too.) It's all that I can do to get enough of him to last me till our next set of days together; it's all that I can do to show him how important he is to me. Some part of me hopes that if on our days together it's all about him, that somehow makes it up to him, and maybe, when he's not with me, he'll remember and know and feel safe in my love. I want to imprint myself into him, and I keep hoping I'm giving him enough of me, enough of a mother, to last till the next time.

I don't remember anymore how it used to be before all this. The only thing that lingers is the memory of how intensely defeated I always felt, something that has, mercifully, abated. I look at this sense of defeat now as a sign of something deeper that was going on inside me and in my life. Many days, that feeling consumed everything. And whatever was going on inside me and in my life affected my ability to parent like I wanted to; at the very least, the silver lining in all this has been that over the last two years, I've become a better parent than I was in my other life.

So I wonder sometimes how it is with *regular* mothers, with the ones who always have their kids with them and so maybe don't think about this time/attention issue the way that I do. Every moment with Max for me is touched in some way by the absence I will soon experience; I try to remember every conversation, to include in each day some kind of bonding experience, to talk to him about anything and everything, to give him something to look forward to the next time. I hover more than I should (more than I want to) and overdo it with the hugs and kisses. I've come to realize just recently how this situation has defined my life in ways that maybe aren't so surprising, but that feel intense -- too intense sometimes. Too overwhelming.

Because it feels most days like it's all very much -- too much -- about Max. Max days are sacred days; Max days are days when we can be apart only for work/school and nothing else, and I am nearly fanatical about it. I say "no" to everything else. I say "no" without even really thinking about it, because -- how absurd to think I'd do something without Max! When I say, "no, because I have Max that day," I am just as fanatical about my expectation that the phrase should be universally understood and accepted.

This isn't easy for me. I struggle to find some kind of balance. I stress about how to manage relationships and obligations and at the same time not take anything from him. I wonder if I can loosen up without hurting him. I want to be a well-rounded woman; I want to be one person, not someone living two lives. I want to be like the regular moms.

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Posted by Tere @ 5/26/2010   | | | links to this post

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Shoes, Cleaning, Shoes, Cleaning, Shooooes

Jevo gets home from his baseball game and various other errands around 7:30 p.m. Although I’ve been planning on cooking dinner, I’ve been caught up cleaning and am, by 7:45 p.m., too tired to take dinner on. We have some leftovers from dinner the night before, and we heat them up and plop down in front of the TV to eat and talk.

It’s a pretty typical Sunday evening for us (those Sundays I don’t have Max, anyway), as we both very much like to (and need to) wind down and do nothing in anticipation of what is normally for each of us a hectic work week.

We spend a good while vegging out on the couch – talking, watching TV, reading – when I’m struck by this desire to do something. Having spent the afternoon cleaning, I’ve got fresh in mind some specific chores I really need to tackle, things I have to do, soon, to get the house in order. This getting the house in order business has been weighing heavily on me for months now. I was in such a bad place when my marriage ended that I let it all slide, caring not one whit about the mess, that when the fog lifted and I felt the first shimmer of healing, I was shocked at how bad I’d let things get. And so for a long time now (we’re talking almost a year here, people), I’ve been anxious to get everything back in order, a task I’ve attacked with varying levels of energy and enthusiasm over the last months, but which I’ve never fully embraced, much less completed (and when I've come close, it's taken very little to get things all cluttery again).

Except that I have to get this done already. No more talking, no more procrastinating. Enough is enough, you know? Besides my own sense of being sick to death of my own procrastinating, there’s the fact that I’ve promised Max a complete overhaul of his bedroom so that he can move in and have his own big boy bedroom decorated to his taste. Right now, his room is serving as the catch-all room, full of clothes, magazines and books that are slated for Goodwill, as well as his shoes, clothes and books, and random other things (i.e., the box that contains everything that was in my car the night of the accident, which I’ve oddly been too traumatized to deal with).

(This whole "Max moving into his own bedroom" thing, btw, is a whole other beast. He currently sleeps in my room, in his own bed, though he ends up in my bed at some point in the early morning. He vacillates between dying to get into his own room and vowing he's never leaving mine, and frankly, there are days when I don't want him to go just yet. I've loved having him in my bed and in my room and am going to miss him. But... it's time. I'm almost scared to think about how all this is going to go down.)

Anyway. I have to get it together and get that room in order and sort out the clutter. So Sunday night, after a decent amount of vegging out, I'm hit with this "I have to clean NOW" bug, and while Jevo reads on the couch, I go into my bedroom to take on something that's been driving me nuts but that's also contained enough to be completed within an hour or so: my shoes.

Ah, my shoes. While I make a good effort at using the shoe holder thing in my closet (I'm partial to this type of organizer), what really happens is that most shoes are in there, but the ones I regularly use end up in a pile on the closet floor. Over time, the shoes I "regularly use" end up being like 20 pairs -- all gnarled up in a messy heap.

On top of that mess, I know I have many pairs I no longer use. Shoes I no longer use fall into two categories: I sometimes will hold on to a pair a little longer than I should, just to see if I'm really done with them or not. If not, then it's shoes that I just don't like anymore, period. So I pulled the heap apart, took out all the other pairs, and got busy. Some were easy to decide on; others, I needed to try on and take a look; still others, I had to walk around a bit to test comfort, heel height and overall look; one pair required a second opinion from Jevo. I was merciless, not allowing myself any sentimentality or any nonsense of "... but maybe I'll wear these this year." Nope. No excuses, no mercy.

In the end, 20 pairs are gone. Another six or so pairs of flip flops were tossed away (they were much too grungy to even consider donating). I felt so proud of myself, for the way I swooped in and got it done. I was swift, I was decisive, and I organized all my remaining pairs, to boot.

And then, I looked at those remaining pairs. There are somewhere between 50 and 60 left. I still have two 24-pair organizers and an over-the-door hanging one, plus another six pairs that don't fit in any organizer and are neat tucked into a corner of the closet. And I haven't even addressed my boots.

Sigh. Guess I'm gonna have to start all over again.

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Posted by Tere @ 5/19/2010   | | | links to this post

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Freshly Updated

Ah, I've done it again: for your reading pleasure, I've updated my primer by highlighting what I think are the better and/or more important posts of the last year. Go read up or refresh your memory if you'd like!

My writing's definitely diminished lately, a thing I can't wholly explain. Life has felt like an absolute whirlwind, and I've been battling an intense case of exhaustion.... but it's also true that I've been feeling more protective of my privacy lately. Reading over the posts of the last year, I realized how very little I've shared about Jevo and our relationship, yet that has been the most important thing in my life (equal to Max). There is definitely the fact that this relationship has been growing so beautifully that I've had no need to stress out and over-analyze. That right there is huge; I'm so much more prone to writing when things are rough or stressful or negative in some way, and that's not been the case in this relationship. There is something about this man that makes me not freak out over things I'd normally freak out about. I mean, I should be in a total panic over how awesome this is; I should be constantly worried about how deeply I've fallen for him, and how catastrophic this can end up being for me. But I'm not, and that in itself is kinda crazy. I keep interrogating myself, checking to make sure I'm not in denial or delusional, but all signs point to this being real and good and strong. Which, again, crazy!

So I don't write because while we certainly have moments where we disagree and issues we've had to face, there's nothing dramatic or troublesome to analyze or share. But I also don't write because I feel aware that he is a private person, one who guards himself well and doesn't display his emotions like I do, and I simply don't want to overstep any boundaries. We are not yet at that point where I can unequivocally decide which stories are o.k. to share, and I don't live my life thinking about the blog and what would make a good post so that I would be all, "I have to blog about this!" as it's happening. So it's a mix of things, no one specific reason for my lack of sharing. Certainly there's also my own desire to protect us, and my awareness that posts along the lines of "I'm so happy! He's so great! What an awesome relationship!" grow old quickly.

Hhhmmm.... I've given myself things to think about here.... I definitely would like to get back to more of a schedule here, and I'd like to figure this all out somehow. Meanwhile, I hope the recaps will do.

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Posted by Tere @ 5/12/2010   | | | links to this post

Sunday, May 09, 2010

Happy Mother's Day. Yeah, Whatever

I woke up - as usual on the weekends I have Max - at 6 a.m. today. But given that I've felt so painfully exhausted lately, once I confirmed that he was o.k., busy playing with his trains, I passed back out. I was out - out cold - and I know this because I was awoken an hour later by the sound of very loud... slurping. I pull my eye mask up, crack open an eye, and there's my child at my side of the bed, staring at me, drinking pure chocolate out of his cup, his face smeared. I ask, confused and slightly alarmed, what he's doing, and he matter-of-factly says, "drinking my chocolate milk." Except that neither the milk nor the chocolate syrup are within his reach, and so I jump out of the bed and race into the kitchen... where everything looks eerily normal.

By the time I figure out how he did this and discover the mess he tried so hard to clean up (god bless him) - he used the stool that's normally in his bathroom and apparently repeated what he sees me frequently do, give or take a ton of extra ounces of chocolate syrup - it's a good half hour later and I'm up. Up enough that I can't go back to sleep like my body is begging me to. And in this moment, feeling so cranky and exhausted, I'm overcome with self-pity and I find myself thinking about how much I dislike Mother's Day and how much it sucks that I don't get to experience it like all the other mothers in my life do. There's no sleeping in for me, no breakfast in bed, or breakfast made for me, period; there are no flowers, no jewelry with my child's birthstone. There's nothing but me up much too early, with no breakfast ready and waiting, surrounded by a mess of toys, and a child hopped up on Nesquik.

And this, this isn't even true. Well, yes, the house was (is) a terrible mess of toys and my child was hopped up on Nesquik, but my day was wonderful; I had nothing to pity myself over. The child gave me a lovely present the day before, and he remembered to wish me a happy mother's day as he slurped his chocolate. And later, Boyfriend joined us and he came bearing great gifts and a card that got me all choked up, and we joined the rest of my family plus his mom and grandmother for a wonderful brunch and some QT.

There was just something about first thing in the morning; I can't really explain it, but I felt alone and defeated. Max has been particularly trying these last few days. He's been asking the same friggin' questions over and over and over and over, and I'm just about crazy because of it. Worse, when I provide an answer he replies by telling me that I'm wrong ("no, it's not;" "that's not true;" "it's not like that;" "you're wrong"). Besides incensing me, it's actually a bit too reminiscent of his father, who regularly had a similar replies to every other thing I said. This feeling has caught me off guard and it's unnerving, giving me some unpleasant flashbacks. That aside, though, it's just exhausting to have to address the same topic over and over again, or to find myself making the same simple request 300 times before he complies. Usually, I tell him what he has to do, with specific instructions, and then let him know that if it doesn't get done (by the time we need to leave or whatever), there's going to be a consequence (leaving half-dressed, not getting dessert, etc.). I try to not nag him or repeat my requests, as I tend to think that makes everything worse. And usually, I don't need to ask him to get ready for his bath 10,000 times. But these last few days, my god. He hasn't been moody or anything; his disposition has been normal. And yet, he has been so uncooperative, and it isn't until I get extremely upset that he gets off his butt and into the bathroom, or settles down for dinner. I have to repeat every request, even the ones that usually were not much of an issue, and it's just become pretty unbearable.

So this morning, I just wasn't in any mood to wake up to the mess, to the questions,to any of it. I wanted the Mother's Day from the commercials, where mom gets to stay in bed as long as she wants and the kids come in only to show love, and when she's ready, food (food she likes) magically appears. It's a completely fake notion of motherhood, but man, I wanted it. I've felt so exhausted lately (I can't state that enough); I've been stressing so much about Max and how to handle the challenges a four-and-a-half-year-old presents and how best to parent him. My brain is absolutely fried.

And so I guess the thought of Mother's Day - while mine was ultimately a lovely one - was too much for me early this morning. I've been too quick to get irritated and cynical these last couple of weeks. Not even holidays are safe with me.

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Posted by Tere @ 5/09/2010   | | | links to this post