Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Friends, Romans, countrymen, lend me your earmuffs

I had a lovely reunion with the children on Friday afternoon, followed by a weekend full of snuggles and kisses and "I love you, Mamas."  They had a fantastic time in Australia, which makes me so happy.  They got to meet a jillion cousins and hang out with grandparents and aunts and uncles.  They petted koalas and fed kangaroos and emus and marmosets.  They swam in rock pools.  They went to a wedding and danced.  They were admired for their intelligence and dispositions and beauty.

I talked to J almost every day they were gone, and received pictures and little videos of their activities.  A few times, Zeke was willing to get on the phone to talk to me.  Josie never was, except when she finally cracked two days before the end of the trip - she was tired and missed mama and called me crying.

I think being away from me was harder for her than she let on, and not talking to me was a way of dealing with that. Which I totally get.  I am the queen of compartmentalizing, so I'm glad that she has inherited that coping mechanism and is able to recognize what she can and can't handle in a given moment.

But since she has been back, she has been on me.  Sitting on my lap. Reaching for my hand and patting it. Crawling onto me, putting her cheek against my cheek, and then stroking my other cheek with her hand.  Given me impromptu hugs.

And all of that emotionality, combined with recovering from jet lag, coagulated this morning into a bout of insanity as we were leaving to go to school.

Unlike the East Coast, Denver is not experiencing any harsh winter weather this week.  To the contrary, it has been positively spring-like, with sunny skies and temperatures in the high 60s (and with the dry heat and altitude, you can generally add 10 degrees to come up with a "real feel" temperature when it's sunny).

So imagine my surprise when I was getting the kids ready to go, putting them in light fleece jackets to deal with the slight morning chill that will burn off within an hour, when Josie suddenly starts to cry.

"Honey, what's wrong?" I ask.

"You never buy me ear thingies!"  she wails.

I am utterly confused.

"Ear things?  I don't understand what you're saying.  Do you want to put on a hat that covers your ears?"


I think she is talking about headphones, and that she is complaining that for her long plane trip, I got her Frozen earphones that cover your ears, rather than the little ear buds that go inside your ears. Which don't fit her anyway, because her ears and ear holes are so tiny.

"Do you want smaller headphones that go in your ears?"


"Earmuffs?  The fuzzy ones?"

"Yes!  I WANT EARMUFFS! You never buy me earmuffs!"  She is crying incredibly hard.

"Josie, you've never asked for earmuffs.  I didn't buy earmuffs because I didn't know you wanted them. And it's not cold out, anyway."

"Earmuffs!  I don't have earmuffs!"
The only true source of happiness in life.
In a tone of voice I usually reserved for people having a psychotic break, I say, "o-KAY, kids, let's go," and I usher them out the door.  She's still inconsolable about the fucking earmuffs.  Which she has never asked for.  Which no one in our family wears or has ever worn, so it's not an item of outerwear that she has ever discussed or that I even knew was on her radar.  Plus it's almost 50 degrees out when we leave the house, so it is decidedly not earmuff weather.

This completely ridiculous (to me) argument continues all the way to school.  She insists I am the world's worst mother because I am not clairvoyant and did not to buy her earmuffs to wear on a day when it will be 70 degrees and sunny.  I say I'm sorry she's unhappy, but continue to express befuddlement at the entire ordeal.  Zeke gives her funny looks, but wisely stays out of the fray.  She finally calms down when she goes into her classroom and sees her teacher.  I walk back to my car feeling like I have entered the Twilight Zone.

I guess it's just my periodic reminder that for all of her intelligence and general good-natured-ness, she is only 5 years old.  And 5 year olds are, basically, lunatics.

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Come to Mama

On Saturday afternoon, I drove J and the kids to the airport and said goodbye to all of them for two weeks.  J's sister is getting married, so they all went for two weeks to go to the wedding and hang out with family.  With the exception of J's mom and brother, none of them have ever met Josie, and haven't seen Zeke since he was about 8 months old.

And it's a big adventure, getting to go to Australia.  They're excited to go to the beach and see koalas and kangaroos.  They have little journals in which they will be drawing pictures and writing about what they're doing every day.

But damn, two weeks is a long time.  I miss them so much.  The first day was the hardest - on the Sunday after they left, I went to the grocery store for about 30 minutes and then didn't leave the house for the rest of the day.  I watched football and napped and moped around feeling sorry for myself.

J has called every day, so I know they're having a great time and that all is well.  They've been to the beach and hung out with their cousins and Josie was treated to a facial (and passed right out - I guess the jet lag hit her hard when she was all comfy and being pampered) and they're excited to go to the wedding and dance.

But today when they called, J told me that Josie has an ear infection, and when she spoke to me for a few minutes, she sounded tired.  Then Zeke got on the phone and promptly started to cry because he missed me, and then I started to cry, and it was all very weepy and pathetic.

In an effort to cheer myself up, I decided to list the good things about the 2 week break that I'm getting:

  • My morning routine is a cinch.  I can exercise and be ready for work and out the door without having to wake them up (which they hate), get them dressed (which they hate), and then rush around trying to get them into socks and shoes and hats and coats and mittens without being late for school (which I hate).    
  • I can make dinner plans with friends and stay out as late as I want.
  • I can go to New York to visit my brother and sister-in-law.
  • I don't have to clean up anybody else's mess.
  • Nobody complains if I sing along to the radio.
  • Nobody is arguing about wanting to sleep in my bed.
  • The toilet is always flushed, so I'm not encountering rogue giant turds when I got to the bathroom.
  • Nobody is leaving legos on the floor for me to maim my feet on when I step on them.
  • I haven't watched Barbie: Life in the Dreamhouse once.
I live in quiet and order, doing what I want.  

So many people have been all, "ooooh, you're so lucky to have time to yourself, take advantage of it!" 

And I am.  But one of the great joys of divorce/sharing custody is that I already get regular breaks when I can take time for myself.  I don't feel like I'm lacking in that department.

Bottom line, I miss my monkeys and can't wait for them to come home and fill my house up with mess, noise and love again.

Thursday, January 08, 2015

Happiness, not in another place but this place...not for another hour, but this hour.

Happy New Year.

I am determined to make it so.

2014 was such a horrible year.  Truly the worst year of my life.  The death of a marriage, the death of a niece, the death of that special, rarified familial happiness we enjoyed.  Mental fog and depression, physical lethargy.  I gained 10 pounds, I was sad, I cried all the time, I felt like shit.

And then it all ended with a period of time that I dread and despise every year -- the winter holidays and break from school.  School lets out, but I still have to work, so I send the kids to Denver Public Schools' day camp that they run on dismissal days, but they don't run it on ALL the dismissal days, just some of them, so some days I have coverage and some days I don't, so I end up working 2 or 3 days per week for 2 1/2 weeks and everything is disjointed and I don't get anything done and it drives me bonkers.

Christmas isn't even my holiday, and J had the kids on New Year's Eve, so I spent both of those days and nights alone, reading and watching movies.  Which is OK, but felt kind of lonely because I had nowhere to go and no one else to spend time with.

I needed the year to be over.  Once 2014 was over and 2015 started, then in my mind, I could take definitive steps to put it all behind me.  I could start exercising and eating well again. I could come out of my depressive funk.  I could raise my inner Scarlett O'Hara: I won't think about the bad stuff.  I'll put it behind me.  Tomorrow is another day.  Scarlett may have been an asshole, but she knew how to deal with her shit and get on with her life.  I always respected her for that.

It seems so arbitrary and stupid when I think about it, this obsession with the actual date. It's a date on a calendar.  Why couldn't I just start a health program in December?  Why couldn't I mentally and emotionally try to feel better earlier?  Why does flipping the calendar page from December to January make a difference?

It just does, at least for me.  2014 felt like a monster's claws to me, holding me in a cold, awful grip. And with the turning of the clock and the calendar, there is a releasing of that grip in my mind.  It's a way of compartmentalizing and saying, OK, I got my time to wallow and be sad and unproductive, but life goes on and it's time to get busy living.

So I am.  I'm back on the fitness and health train, and am already feeling so much better.  J and I are filing divorce papers this week.  I am making an effort every day to think about something that I am grateful for in my life.  I'm still walking to work and taking pictures.

I still miss Emma, and I am still heartbroken by her death.  That will never change.  I can, however, choose to remember her in a way that doesn't utterly devastate me.

The other day when I was walking to work, I saw this older couple walking in front of me.  They looked to be in their late 70s, at least.  The lady had the kind of hair-do that one only achieves by going to the hairdresser to have it "set."  They were walking hand in hand, and it made me smile.

I don't have any particular desire to be in a romantic relationship again, or to remarry.  But it would be nice to have someone to hold hands with on a walk, or to kiss at midnight on New Year's Eve.

Here's hoping for a joyous 2015.