Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Birthday Girl

Well, look at that. It's my birthday.

I'm way too exhausted from my "Transformation" series (that's done, by the way) to conjure up anything special about this. It's my birthday, it's all good, yay. Yay, me. I made it another year and it's felt like equal parts loss and gain and tears and laughter. I've covered everything (for now) in the last four posts.

So today, today will be good, as all birthdays more or less are. Considering the full day of work I have ahead of me, today will be low-key. I did, however, have a lovely weekend: Jevo took me to the spa for the day and then a wonderful dinner; I took Max to see Despicable Me; and Jevo's mom treated us to dinner on Sunday. Simple and sweet.

Meanwhile, I did as I suspected I would and treated myself to a few trinkets over the last few weeks: an antique pair of earrings, pretty blue sandals, a pedicure, a printer/scanner/copier and a paper shredder. Wheeeee! The best part was that each thing was super cheap, which makes me extra happy (cheap as in, all of that for less than $150).

Oh yeah, that reminds me that there are some new things I've noticed about myself:

1. I've become super cheap. Like, ridiculously so. I agonize over every non-essential purchase even though I know I can afford it and it's within my budget. It's a bit maddening because I'm refusing to buy things I need but are also technically non-essentials (like some new clothes for work and home-improvement items). I prefer myself this way, as it's much safer and more practical. But given my history as a voracious shopper, it's amusing. And a bit annoying.

2. Something is wrong with my eyes. I had them checked about a year-and-a-half ago and discovered that I'd had some significant changes in my vision. My new glasses have been great... except that for a week now, I see blurry out of them and feel discomfort. It's making it hard to focus - yeah, it's that bad! So I'm getting them checked in the next few days. It's just strange that they would be changing again so soon after my last check-up. This is just really bugging me.

3. I've had a bit of the "I feel so old" feeling these last couple of days; truth be told, the feeling's been driven by the very loud ticking of my biological clock (or where I thought that clock would have me by now), but thankfully, that's one topic I can easily not obsess about, so whatever. It'll pass by week's end.

I feel like this post is reflective of my life right this moment (warning! could change at any minute!): calm and not particularly exciting. This is good. I like this. It might not make for spectacular writing, but hey. I probably just jinxed myself so who knows what the next year of my life (and writing) will bring.

I'll hang tight for whatever lies ahead.

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Posted by Tere @ 7/28/2010   | | | links to this post

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Transformation, Part 4: Him

So it should be clear by now that the night that everything changed between Jevo and me, I was overall ambivalent, fresh from an intense effort at putting my marriage somewhere less tangible and pressing, and living with all these rules designed to protect my son and myself. I was o.k. and not o.k., feeling as if I was on the precipice of either something really good, or something really terrible.

I have carried over the last (almost) year a sense of shock about the way everything changed. Shock over the fact that anything even happened between us. Shock that whatever happened was seismic enough to affect us both and lead us right to each other, and neither had a clue that the other felt the same until the day it all exploded between us a second time and we confessed our feelings. Shock at how wonderful it was to see him in this way, how very sweet the possibility of him and me seemed. Shock at finding myself feeling like I could trust him and let him in. Shock at the ways my life has changed, the ways I have changed. Shock, shock, shock. The reasons have been plenty, and seemingly endless, because I'm still shocked.

I think that for me the deepest shock was rooted in this: despite my rules and fears and sadness and worries and the general uncertainty I felt about this aspect of my life, when everything happened between us - the day weeks later when he made his move and told me he wanted to be with me – I didn’t hesitate; I was right there with him. I wanted it. Actually, I wanted him. It wasn't the "it" - companionship, affection, arm candy, distraction - it was him. I wanted his sense of humor, his intelligence, his thoughtfulness, his kindness, his nerdiness. I wanted to talk to him every day. I wanted his smile to shine on me, because of me, and his eyes to light up with excitement at the sight of me.

And yet, the weeks leading to that day had been emotionally crazy. I was freaked out at finding myself seeing him that way now, and miserable at how certain those feelings felt. I was convinced that he did not feel the same, and I knew that for the sake of such a good friendship, I would never betray a thing and would carry on as always (I am almost always 100% aware of my feelings, which I think enables me to control them however I think I need to). I was so deep into my own shit that I never considered that he might have feelings for me or might want to pursue something with me. I mean, why would he?

So when everything changed, I really couldn’t believe how right it felt, how there was this part of me that felt with complete certainty that this made total sense; we made total sense. Whatever general fears and concerns I'd had, the moment we became a couple (because it was like that - one minute we were friends and the next we were a full-on couple), I was in.

When we decided to be together, it was from the beginning with every intention of making it last. There was no game-playing, no "do I really want to do this?" about it or us. We were certain; we knew. As I've mentioned, the day after everything exploded between us for the second time, I brought Max up. He told me then that he knew what he was doing, that he wanted to be with me and all I came with. And if I'm honest and separate reality from my own issues and fears, the truth is that from that moment, he's approached Max and his potential role as a step-father from the standpoint of, "I have much to learn and get used to and I'm open to it all," and never from a place where running off was an option. And when I've asked him about that, about the probability of him running off because both Max and I are too overwhelming, he's just looked at me like I'm insane and told me that all he wants is to be with me, and by extension, Max.

I wasn't prepared for my life to change so completely and so decisively. We've taken a lot of things slowly and have been very thoughtful about the steps we've taken so far; but at the same time, the force of our feelings created, early on, a real commitment. And there's been something about him and us that has made the changes feel right and good every step of the way. And through it all, I've found my strength in him. When I've felt scared, or worried, or pessimistic, he's given me the space to feel these things and has let me talk ad nauseum about them. At the same time, he's been sure and steady and soothing; he's been everything I couldn't be and then some. He's used his reason and logic to guide me and his warmth and love to comfort me. He's made everything feel right and all right.

I tell him often that he's been such a wonderful surprise, that I look at him and all we've shared as a gift to be cherished. My experiences have taught me to stay in the here-and-now as best as possible and to hold it close and cherish it. And I do. I don't dare hope for more than what I have right this second, for more than making it from one day to the next; everything we have today could easily be gone tomorrow. All I've been through has left me with the very strong sense of this indelible sadness, an undercurrent that flows through and in everything. It seems to me that I love him in equal measure to the pain I've known, and that that very pain enhances the intensity of my love for him. I don't know that I'll ever again know any "good" emotion in its pureness, but that makes me appreciate them more.

As we approach one year - just one year - together, we are surprised by how swiftly and crazily our lives have changed, and amazed that we have a second chance at happiness and love and all the things - family, adventures, warmth, a home - we each wanted. I am keenly aware that none of this would exist without him; this is in every way about him: his strength, his fearlessness, his kindness, his steadfastness, his love that he gives without reservations. He is a vital reason that today I feel new, transformed.

For this, I am infinitely grateful.

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Posted by Tere @ 7/24/2010   | | | links to this post

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Transformation, Part 3: My Son

Since this life, part two, of mine began, I've lived by all these standards I set for myself that I believed would correctly guide me through my life as a single mother. Who I was as a woman, whatever her needs and desires were, she had to take a back seat to the mom in me. I felt like I couldn't afford to screw things up for Max's sake, and it seemed like the best option was to be overcautious.

What that specifically meant to me was that I did not see myself in a "real" relationship for a good long while. I attached no time frame, no real details to that notion; I just knew I had no interest in (and feared) attaching myself to someone who might not be right for me for the sake of not being alone, or because it made my ego feel good. More importantly, it seemed impossible to even think that I would ever come across someone who would be right for Max. That, in the end, was the crux of everything. Would Max be able to know nice guys, guys who played with him or would pal around with him or indulge him with gifts (which would've pissed me off)? Sure. But it's one thing to date a woman with a child and to have sporadic contact with that child, and it's quite another to form a family with a woman and her child. While I've known there's no perfect formula and that I would make my own mistakes, I didn't want to find myself in a situation that would be unnecessarily difficult or painful or problematic.

There were a number of things I worried about when I thought of really allowing anyone in. First of all, I didn't want to let anyone in. I needed time to grieve my marriage and be angry and deal with all that. I don't believe that anyone can successfully jump from one long-term relationship to another without a bit of breathing room. I know I needed the room. It wasn't just the mourning that I had to go through; there was a lot about my marriage that stung me and caused damage that I knew would get in the way of my being able to function properly in a relationship. I had to address those things, understand them and also get over some things that I've come to realize were specific to that relationship, and not to me, who I am as an individual. Anything else seemed impractical and dumb to me.

Second, while I didn't think dating would be a problem, I thought love and commitment would be. Not just on the guy's part, but my own. For a good while there (and, truth be told, this part could still be true had the right person not come along), I was incredibly vulnerable, and I knew it. In that emotional state, I can't have real feelings for someone, much less form any kind of commitment with them, not even the most basic kinds. Beyond my vulnerability, there was also something in me that just didn't feel like it. I just wanted to live my life on my terms without having to deal with anyone else's shit - not their issues, their feelings, their needs, their wishes. None of it.

Third, I highly doubted there'd be anyone. There was much about my situation that I thought would make me completely undesirable to men. I'm young, with a failed marriage under my belt, plus a small child. Oh, and an ex-husband who is very involved in his child's life and with whom I actually do co-parent. Gee, I have "winner" stamped all over me! I felt - and I felt this very very very strongly in the beginning - that all my positives (and I believe there are many!) were significantly inferior to these negatives.

Somewhere along the way, though, I realized that I no longer felt that way about my situation. I did the best I could in my marriage; and my son is a wonderful human being, and any guy that he takes a shine to should consider himself lucky; and my ex and I have not had an ideal situation, but he is not problematic and is a great father. Frankly, if a guy saw me and my circumstances as negative, the one with a problem was him.

That didn't mean I didn't have concerns and didn't worry about confronting these issues on a real level. I just realized that this is the way my life panned out, and I have nothing to be ashamed of.

So, with those traumatic feelings handled, it was really just about being as smart as possible and keeping Max front and center. That was it, really. I wanted Max to feel safe and comfortable; I wanted to be appropriate in the things I did; I didn't want to make poor choices or make them for the wrong reasons. Clearly, for as much as I wanted to protect Max, we both needed protection, and I was militant about that. If that meant no one would ever get close to us, so be it.

To be more specific, when I thought about what I wanted for Max if I brought a man into my life, I wanted someone who would not be threatened by him and who would feel kinship and compassion for him. Max doesn't need anyone I'm with to be his dad, but you can never have enough good role models or love. And I wanted that. I wanted someone with the capacity to feel love for my son, someone who would understand that to be with me is to be with us, and who would want that, who would want to become a family with us and build a happy, loving home. Moreover, I wanted someone who would support me in my efforts to co-parent successfully with his father, who would see the value in all I'm trying to do for this child. That requires a degree of maturity and understanding that I think is rare in most people, and so when I felt dim hope, it was out of that. I ask for a lot. And I don't settle for less.

If I chose to allow Jevo in, it was because early on he showed all the signs of someone who could grow into all this with me, who would be open and willing. By the time that we admitted to each other that we wanted to be together, he'd heard plenty about all this. As my friend, I'd shared all these thoughts and my accompanying worries. So he didn't walk into this blindly or misinformed. And very early on - the day after all this happened between us - we talked about Max. Not in any deep way, but I brought him up, almost as if to remind him, hey, I've got a kid! And he told me then, "I know what I'm doing." And I chose then to trust him and let this unfold at a pace we were all comfortable with.

Max has responded positively to all this, and that encourages me. My mind is at peace in that I'm with someone who is not toxic or questionable or immature or anything like that, so it's really just a question of, will they form a relationship? Will they come to care about each other? Will Jevo feel invested in him and his life and come to see him as a little bit his own? I can do no more than create the right environment for them to build on. And if they manage to form a bond, my happiness would be complete.

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Posted by Tere @ 7/18/2010   | | | links to this post

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Transformation, Part 2: My Marriage

Looking over the months leading to the moment everything changed between Jevo and me, there was this other part, too, the part where I had been trying to move past my marriage and my (ex)husband. That can't be ignored here. Last May (May being a pivotal month for me, and you’ll understand why further down), my marriage was still very much a factor in my life, as this is THE thing I’ve had to grieve, let go of, heal from and find some place for. Whatever problems we had and however stressful and unhappy the marriage had become, my feelings for my former husband and my commitment to our life together were real and large and deep. I didn’t want it to end, even though I was prepared to walk away if the change I very badly needed could not be had. It was an unnerving, sad thing to unravel a life and conclude it maybe was for the best, and at the same time feel, every single day, my heart caving in. And that was a feeling I kept living over and over again, in waves, this immense sense of loss that seemed bigger than anything I could contain. It's much too complicated to summarize all this here. The point is that a few months before the night that changed everything between my boyfriend and me, I was still struggling with the love and anger and sadness and disbelief I felt for/about my ex.

(One thing I should note about my feelings: I never looked at my marriage or my ex as something/one I had to "get over" in the traditional sense. I did not believe that something as big as that relationship could be gotten over, and in some ways, I almost didn't want to. I didn't want to erase him or it; I didn't want to act like it didn't matter or deny my feelings, not the ones about my love for him, and not the ones about my relief at being able to breathe again when it was over. I didn't want to rush through my feelings because I never really considered that they'd go anywhere; I figured it was all about learning to live without, learning to redefine, learning to make new discoveries and start fresh. From the time I sensed we would end, I just assumed that my task was to find a place for everything, not a "get over," but a "find a new home." I was comfortable with these feelings, they felt natural.)

And then (in May), there was the incident with Sue, and that was the point where everything changed. That situation and everything about it was ultimately the bucket of cold water I needed thrown on me for me to open my eyes and clear my head. Just like that - a choice on his part, the way he (did not) handle it, what it said about him and whatever respect and connection I thought he had for/to me, my own intense reaction to it - it all put the final nails on the coffin, and I was done. That's it, really: I was done.

That experience gave me the big push I needed to really move forward. Actually, at the same time this happened, I confirmed (because I had already sensed it) that he had entered into what was described as (and as he later informed me) a serious relationship. So really, confronting both things was what really helped me move forward.

(About the girlfriend, I will only say this: because I had already pretty much guessed this a few weeks before I confirmed it, I was not shocked or devastated or anything. But as I let the fact sink in, it certainly brought up a lot of questions and feelings. I think it was all typical stuff that women in a similar situation go through, but the big thing for me was this: he chose someone. That meant he had feelings for this person and was building a life with them, and all that removed me further still from him and the life we shared. Even if reconciliation was not an option, this kind of thing still hurts. By the time he told me news himself two months later, I had already been dealing with these feelings and accepted it and kept pushing forward.)

This is the thing about those two things: it was like I had nowhere else to go; there were no more questions, no need for answers, and the best choice - the only choice - was to seal the door and not look back. I ultimately came to believe that those two things happened as they did because the universe felt that I needed them to happen that way so that I could have my eyes opened to some deeper truths about him and me and our relationship. I had lessons to learn and decisions to make, and that wouldn't have happened with things that hurt less deeply. And so, after a wretched couple of weeks of spontaneous, uncontrollable crying and feeling quite crappy, I took stock of the lessons I’d learned from these experiences and made some concrete decisions. I put myself in the place, in the frame of mind, that I needed to be in to just really and truly move forward. And I forced myself to move forward.

And so, by the night that everything changed with the one person I least thought anything would happen with, I'd had some time to deal and heal. I'd been working very hard to accept my feelings and work through them. I felt good about my progress. Even so, I wasn't thinking about being in a relationship, not anything real and serious, anyway. Because I'd dipped my foot in the dating pool by then, I was actually even more ambivalent about that part of my life. I thought a lot about all these rules I'd set for myself, about my need to protect Max (as Part 3 will get into), and I just didn't think a real relationship would be a good idea. It seemed like that would complicate a life I was just settling into.

The night that everything changed, none of this really came into play just yet. We'd crossed a line and were spooked by it, but we were not in a relationship. In fact, we had explicitly agreed that we valued our friendship a great deal and that we should pick up where we'd left off before that night. And we did; it was pretty remarkable how we continued as we'd been before, communicating as always, hanging out as usual, with nothing in-between us. Almost nothing, anyway.

The tide had turned. Something in me had been significantly affected by him. I was confused and worried and a bit miserable.

But before we can get to the one who changed everything, we have to cover the one who is everything.


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Posted by Tere @ 7/14/2010   | | | links to this post

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Transformation, Part 1: Me

We’ve been talking lately about our plans to celebrate year one together. We have two occasions to celebrate, really: the night everything (abruptly) changed between us, and the day we essentially decided to make a go of this. We're planning a couple of special things to commemorate this time when everything changed and a new life began for us. While we recognize there are two distinct dates, it really was just an extended time period of each of us (unbeknownst to the other) sorting through our feelings, trying to deal with the way our friendship had been jarred by an explosion of feelings, and figuring out what it all meant. That we arrived at the same conclusion has felt like nothing short of miraculous.

The planning has made me very reflective of this last year. Maybe it hasn't been so much the planning as it's been the upcoming anniversary itself. A year is but a blip in a lifetime, but this has been such a huge year for me that I find myself caught up in these thoughts about where I was a few months before and right when this relationship began, and how surprising it was to even find myself entering a relationship... and then to look now at where that relationship is and what my life is like now. I am somewhere I didn't expect to be. I am living a life I did not imagine I would live, not at this point or maybe ever. I wonder at my fortune even as I struggle with aspects of being divorced and of being a single mom. Always, when my mind swirls with the changes of the last year, I inevitably end up in the same place: the night everything changed.

(Throughout the course of gathering my thoughts and writing here, I've realized that all this stuff about the last year covers a lot of ground, and to make sense of it even to me, I've mentally blocked it into sections. This whole ruminating and sharing process is going to have to be broken down into parts, otherwise it'll be one big chaotic mess.)

The thing about the night that everything changed is that the change - the moment that Jevo and I went from utterly platonic pals to, well, more - came from nowhere. There had been no hint, no moment, no conversation, no look - nothing - to indicate that we would in one split second see each other in a whole new light. Not that night, and not ever. The shock of that night still feels intense because I was caught so completely off guard, both by what happened and by my reaction to it. It's no wonder that I get stuck there.

(I maintain this, and I know he would agree, despite the three dozen people who know one or both of us who were all, "I knew this would happen!" or, "I could tell you two would end up together!" Ppfftttt. What do they know?)

And at that time, the time when everything changed, the truth is that I was somewhere o.k., but it was just that: o.k. I wasn't - I don't know - necessarily ready or wanting to bring anything new into my life. It wasn't that I felt that I couldn't handle it; it was more that I didn't know what I would feel or want or how I would behave, and so I preferred the quiet in my life. It was o.k. by me; the months just before everything changed had been very emotional for me, and I was mainly just content that I was still in one piece.

When I think back to that time, to about May 2009 through that night in August, I can see now how I lived in two distinct states, opposite ones that co-existed side-by-side and that perhaps set the stage for my being emotionally able to enter into a relationship. On one hand, I was anxious and subdued and ambivalent about my life in general beyond the basic everyday things (and most days I could only focus on the everyday things because anything else threatened to send me somewhere much too dark and depressing); but on the other, I felt strong. I felt like I knew where I stood and what my standards and my limitations were. I did not feel, not by that early summer, emotionally weak or unsure of myself. These two general states of being combined to make me neither happy nor unhappy, wanting or unwanting. I was mainly just trying to let things be and let them unfold as they may. I was trying to keep my mind as still as possible, and while that wasn't easy, I overall felt this very solid trust in myself.

That's mainly it, that's where I was. I was in no-man's land. I had been trying from the time my marriage ended to not rush through my feelings, to not ignore them, to allow the sadness and loss and anger and relief and fear and all of it wash over me, let it all sink deep in me so that I could somehow work through it all. And by the night everything changed, I'd moved to a place where the worst of my feelings seem to have passed, and I was just there. There, in no-man's land.

And in no-man's land, I've come to realize, anything can happen. Especially the thing that you least expect.

So the least-expected happened, and everything changed. But before the story moves forward, it will have to go backwards, back to my marriage.

(I'll tackle that in Part 2.)

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Posted by Tere @ 7/13/2010   | | | links to this post

Saturday, July 03, 2010

We Have No Mangoes Today

I knew it had to happen eventually. I knew I could not go for years without experiencing a bad crop. And this year, it's a bad crop. And it blows.

I knew something was wrong with my beloved mango tree in April. For three seasons now, it's been in April when the mangoes start ripening and falling, so that by May I'm drowning in mangoes and can barely keep up. By late June, the season is usually done.

This April, though, the mangoes on the tree (and the tree was as full as ever) were green. Worse, they were tiny. And I knew that this, my fourth mango season, was going to be a bad one.

I've been watching that tree like a hawk all these months, wondering if any of those mangoes would ripen, and if so, when. The answers: yes, and the week before last. The mangoes have remained disappointingly small, with only a small handful growing nice and big. And those that have grown are still green, while all these tiny, barely edible ones have been raining down, ripe and useless.

My yard is a swampy mess. The bugs and snails are getting to them faster than I am and many that I can't see from my windows when I check in the mornings and evenings lay out there for days, so that when I get out there to salvage what I can, I'm greeted by the distinct stench of rotting mangoes.

The prolonged cold we experienced at the beginning of the year basically screwed the season up. That's really it. In my case, I've gotten my mangoes, albeit more than two months later than usual, but they're stunted, and the vast majority of my tree remains green.

This is a total bummer. I so love mango season and all that comes with it (even the stench!). I knew there would eventually be a bad season and part of me is actually relieved to have it over with.

But this better mean that things will be back to normal next year, or I might lose it.

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Posted by Tere @ 7/03/2010   | | | links to this post

Friday, July 02, 2010

Because it's Not My Birthday Without My Wish List

It's less than a month till my birthday, people! I'm soooo late with this year's wish list, but never fear, for I bring it to you now.

(You want to know the funny thing about my birthday wish list? I've never gotten anything on it. I come up with the list and share it, thinking it makes life easy for everyone who loves me who's going to give me a gift, because, I mean, I'm stating point-blank what I want, and in the end, I get nothing on it. This list is apparently the most useless thing I come up with all year, for all the good it does.)

(Actually, I've gotten one or two items. But that's not the point.)

(And anyway, I really do it just for fun.)

Let's get to it, I'm wasting precious time here!

1. From one of my favorite musicians, this pretty t-shirt.

2. I loves me some makeup! One of my best friends gave me the "smoky eyes" version of Too Faced's eye shadow collection (because see, she saw it on my Amazon wish list and concluded that I actually wanted it, and so she got it for me. Simple and painless for both of us!). I love that kit, and now they've come out with a neutral eye palette, and it looks so nice! Me wants.

3. Gadgets to replace the ones that aren't working so well anymore. This one and this one will do.

4. Windshield wipers. I have some practical needs, too.

5. I have the teeny tiny version of this perfume and love it. The regular size would be nice.

6. Bling! Do I prefer this awesome necklace? Or this neat bracelet? How about these lovely earrings? Oh, and how sweet, a set! Oh my gosh - *die*!

7. And finally, it wouldn't be a real wish list without my most ultra-luxurious, so-not-like-me item: the purse. Sweet Jesus, the purse. My taste has shifted to this one, which I think is a better size and something I'd use up and down and all over the place. Aahhh.... I would in reality be pissed if I or anyone spent this kind of money on a friggin' handbag, but man, it's sooooo pretty.

*******************************************

For my birthday this year, my boys and I are headed to NYC! We're staying with my BFF and will have a chance (hopefully) to see a few great friends. This is my first time taking Max to the city, and I'm excited over all the things to do (though I've done zero planning to date). It's also going to be quite the experience, the three of us traveling together for the first time, so of course I'm a bit apprehensive. This could be great, or it can be a total disaster. I'm hanging all my hope on the former.

Prior to the trip, Jevo's got some secret adventure planned for us, and I'm mighty excited! It doesn't really matter what we do, I love the time and effort he's been putting into planning it out. I know there'll be a sweet, romantic dinner, but prior to that, it's a mystery. I can't wait anymore!

Meanwhile, I've got to work on my actual birthday, so it looks like for the first time ever, I won't have the day off. *cry* But seriously, it doesn't matter. I feel so loved and so happy that my heart feels like it's on the verge of bursting. My family and friends are so supportive and good to me (especially my parents and sisters); my son is healthy and bright and so incredibly affectionate and loving with me that it overwhelms me; and I am loved and accepted by a man so incredible that I keep pinching myself, so crazy and wonderful this is to me.

So hey, look at that, I've got everything I really want.

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Posted by Tere @ 7/02/2010   | | | links to this post