Co-Parenting. The sharing of children, and all things difficult.

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LET GO.

I’m gonna say it once now, and then probably at least 10 more times. Sounds simple right? A tiny little phrase that is literally the hardest thing in the world (for me, at least) to act out. I am the queen of holding on to things for dear life.

To me, there are 3 key components to co-parenting: communication, understanding, and flexibility. And in between all of that, is letting go. Over and over, and over again.

Oh, and also to avoid conflict at all costs/ learn to deal with conflict, which could very well be an entirely separate blog post one day…but I’ll touch on it a little throughout just for good measure.

I should start off by telling you that four years ago, when my ex and I were splitting up, the cops were at our house at least a dozen times in a 6 month period. We had high conflict and not a lot of knowledge on how to work through it. Today, I am happy to report that my ex-husband is one of my best friends. He is someone that I can trust, and go to when I need help. We have joint birthday parties for our kids, and attempt to share as many Holidays as makes sense. We are able to laugh and joke and participate in our kids lives without any awkwardness or tension, and he has been a shoulder for me to literally cry on a few times, vice versa. We have both been able to move on and support each other in this, and I think our kids overall happiness is a good indicator that we are on a good path. The point in this post isn’t to brag about how great we are. The point is to show you, that if we can do it…you can.

First things first, nobody cares if you’re the Mother, or if you’re the Father. It takes two to tango, and two to raise a child. You are both the parents, and the children love you both, equally. You’re not more superior just because you’re a woman, because you’re the one recieving child support, or because the courts say you get more custody. I tell my kids all the time about all the pain and suffering and stretch marks I endured to bring them here, and you know what? They don’t give a shit. They just want to know if I’ll take them to the park.

Second, you can’t co-parent with a parent that doesn’t want to parent. If you’re dealing with this, none of this applies to you. That’s a whole separate ball game.

Sidenote: co-parenting is not one person doing all the work/parenting and the other showing up when and where they please and not actively participating in a parenting plan (legal or not). However, this does not mean that just because your child’s O/P (other parent) is difficult or you two can’t get along that you get to make the decision that they aren’t worthy. It’s not up to you. 

Ok, now the fun part.

Let go.

See? I told you I’d say it again.

Let go of everything that was, of the way things were. Let go of the thought that you will get back together and be one big happy family. Let go of the idea that this person is “yours”. Even if this is something you want, or it’s a possibility, it’s not happening right now. Let go of having everything your way. Let go of your control over whoever this person was to you. If you hate them, you still love them, you resent them, etc… let it go. Let go of that picture picture idealistic shit where everyone BBQ’s together and nobody fights or cries. Not to say that this isn’t achievable, but it’s not the goal right now.

One of the biggest and best lessons I learned in the beginning came also as a huge dagger straight to the heart. I remember exactly where I was when I pulled up to a stop light, and was also simultaneously talking to my boyfriend on speakerphone while scrolling through Instagram (don’t judge me). I shit you not, the VERY first thing that popped up on my feed was a giant bouquet of red roses underneath the username of a girl that I had met several years back as a friend of my now-separated from husband, who he had also just started to date… much to my disapproval. I actually stopped breathing. I dropped my phone and immediately started crying. How could he have bought her roses after “casually dating” her for a week when I’m the one that married the son-of-a and blah blah blah, moral of the story… I never got any damn roses. I was hurt. My boyfriend was like “Hellooo??” because I had completely forgotten he was on the phone. Wait– back up… boyfriend… Oh. Hypocritical, right?

Being the emotional, petty human that I was at this time, I of course called my ex out on this. And to my surprise, he sounded genuinely disappointed that I had seen that. He told me that he had hoped that I wouldn’t because he knew it would upset me. And then he said probably the smartest thing that’s ever come out of his mouth in the 9 years I’ve known him. He told me to please understand that he was trying. He was trying to learn from the mistakes he had made, and to be a better person/boyfriend. He knew where we had gone wrong and he wanted to do better. He had given her the flowers to make her happy, and in no way had meant to make me less happy by doing that.

So yes, I understand how frustrating it can be to watch someone that you loved at one point go and do all the things you had wanted, with someone else. But this isn’t a competition. There was a reason that we broke up and I needed to remember that. It wasn’t about the flowers, but I had chosen to point that out in an argument and he had taken note. How could I blame him for wanting to improve himself? I had to let it go. Let us go.

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Keep the pictures. The people change, but the memories stay the same. Sometimes looking through my old photos reminds me that I did at one point really love this person with all my heart, and I shouldn’t kill him. Some days remembering what we had is a good reminder of the dreams we share for our children, and some days its a little painful. I never said it was going to be easy.

Okay so now you know I’m human and my divorce and co-parenting hasn’t been perfect. We have gotten where we are through trial and error, and a lot of breathing techniques.

The first goal is Communication. One word, a bunch of different aspects.

Communicating goals/dreams/desires: I guess Eric & I were lucky in this sense because we both like to talk a lot, so in the years we were together we always talked about “what-if’s”. I remember the exact road we were driving down right after our first son was born where we talked about what we’d each want in case things didn’t work out. Of course, we each had our dreams for our kids. Eric said he’d cry if one of his kids ever became Major League Ball players, and I just really wanted to keep them alive and hopefully see them off to college so they could get a good job and take care of me when I’m old. But anyway, I’m talking about what we really want for them. How do we get happy, healthy kids that even stand a chance at achieving these goals?

For example: We never wanted to make our kids have to choose between us. We want to raise them the same as if we were all living in one house, and we want to show the kids that we are a team and they can’t play us against each other. We want to show them that we support each other, and that we are both still their family, just living in separate homes. Separate households doesn’t have to equal two different lives/ compartmentalizing for the kids.

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Your goals could be very different. What works for us might not work for you.

Communicating schedules/kids agendas/school behaviors and academics:

This is super important in avoiding conflict.

So technically, I am the “custodial parent” in certain legal aspects. However, when we wrote up our divorce papers/parenting plan we agreed to have joint decision making. Which means that we both decide whether our son plays tackle football or not, we both decide if they get to go to summer camp, etc. This also means I can’t go and baptize my kid just because I want to, however I can cut his hair if I want to, because I’m still a parent and I don’t need permission to do parent-y things with my child.

**Speaking of hair cutting, I’m a woman, so I totally get the desire for your kids to look a certain way but let me tell you a secret: eventually you don’t get a say at all, so you might as well give up-oh wait, LET GO– of that control issue now. It’s just hair. One time when Eric and I were married, the night before Tristan’s 2nd birthday party, I asked him to cut his hair while I was out running errands. He called me a couple hours later to tell me he F*cked up. I about damn near killed him, but hey he was my spouse and I think you can go to jail for that, so I didnt. Instead, I gave him the side eye for 3 days and never let him live it down that he made our kid look like a skin head. Not to mention in the years since, our kids have taken the scissors to their own heads, as well as their girl cousin’s a couple of times as well, and we all got over it eventually.  Let it go. Let go of your need to be in control of everything. Let the little shit go.

One time after our separation, but also during a time where we were trying to reconcile, I was in the shower and Eric was playing a game on his phone on the couch while the kids were playing around the apartment. They found a permanent marker and wrote ALL over my couch and dining room table…all while their Dad was less than 5 feet away. It was an “OH SHIT” parenting moment on his part. We all have them. You’re not perfect, and neither is your ex. He apologized profusely, and after I stood there mortified for a good ten minutes we both tossed every permanent marker in the house straight into the garbage. It’s not worth the tension, or the fight to get upset over the little shit. This also doesn’t mean that I didn’t want to stab him in the eyes, or that I wasn’t annoyed. I just chose not to make a big deal about it.

Ok, back to communicating.

So anyway, yes the kids live with me during the school/work week so I get most of the communication/feedback from teachers/coaches, etc. I also do most of the planning/coordinating of their doctors appointments/social lives/activities. This doesn’t mean that Eric has no say, or that he has no idea what’s going on. I’m sure sometimes he wishes that he didnt, because I text him A LOT. And you know what? He barely responds. Like for real, you should see our text thread. It’s a whole lot of me talking to myself. Sometimes I even answer myself just to be obnoxious. But it doesn’t bother me- he’s busy and he’s not a big texter and never was. I’ve done my part, and I know he read it. It doesn’t always require a discussion, just a little check-in so that he knows what’s going on. If it’s important or requires a discussion, I stalker call him until he answers, and/or I talk to him at drop offs/face to face. Either way, the communication gets done. He knew I was annoying before he married me, so he literally signed up for this.

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If one of our kids has a rough week, I give him a heads up- “Hey this shit head has been a trouble maker all week, so maybe no ice cream for him this weekend.” or “He’s grounded at my house, FYI”. This gives him a chance to decide how he wants to move forward with his own parenting, and his own time spent with the kids, as well as have an educated background on what’s really going on with them. This also helps us be a team, and stay unified. Dad doesn’t get any surprises, and neither do I. We don’t keep secrets from the other parent, and the kids know that. Kids of divorce will play their cards to get what they want, so as the parents its our job to stay one step ahead of them. You can only achieve this by communicating with each other.

I also have to be the one that communicates what’s going on schedule-wise with school/sports because I’m the one coordinating these things. There’s no way to compromise on this because of the way our schedule works. It’s part of my responsibility as a parent, and it would have been had we remained married, or not.

You know what I hate? When my kids give me their “Thursday folder” on SUNDAY night, and there’s a damn permission slip in there that needs $10 cash in it by Monday AM. You know how this gets resolved? I bitch at them. So I try to be curteous of Eric’s schedule, and give him as much notice as I possibly can, as well as *REMINDERS*. Do I care if he shows up to our kids end of the year concert? No. Do my kids? YES. You’re not doing this for your child’s other parent, you’re doing this for THEM. Them, as in the kids.

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Do I get tired of being the one that is constantly updating the other one? Sometimes, yes. It can be tiresome, and frustrating. In the beginning, it was very one sided, and it felt very draining. So you know what I did? I called Eric up, and I told him how I felt. At first, I came at him like I wanted to pick a fight, and he just straight up told me he wasn’t in the mood to fight. And then I felt silly, and was like.. wait, yeah me either. So instead of being aggressive about it, I just told him I was tired, and I had a lot going on and then I told him what I wanted. I communicated without yelling at him or put him down about it. I just said, “Hey, it would be nice if you could call me once or twice and just check up on them so I don’t feel like I’m the only one doing the communicating.” And he immediately apologized and since then he’s made improvements.

I’ll tell you something that I’m not that proud of, but I noticed that Eric started doing with me that worked. If I texted him something that seemed like I was looking for a fight, or I said it rudely, he wouldn’t respond. If I called him and started off aggressively, he’d give me an option to calm down before he hung up. Hanging up on me pisses me off like no other, but he had given me fair warning so I could prevent it. And you know, I usually ended up feeling really silly and not much like fighting anymore. I honestly don’t know how he did it, but he managed to make his point clear to me- that he wasn’t going to fight with me, ever. And over time I just stopped even trying.

Don’t worry, I bitch to my friends when I need to get things off my chest, in private, because nobody is perfect.

Reminder: Communication is always a work in progress. It is never going to be perfect.

Understanding, with a side of compassion:

Perfection. Let it go. Marriage isn’t perfect, and divorce/break-ups/coparenting sure as hell isn’t. Kids aren’t perfect, and neither are we. So with all this imperfection around us, why do we hold the other parent to unobtainable standards? No seriously, you tell me.

You, an imperfect person, had a child with another imperfect person. Stop keeping score. I’m going to say it again, just to make my point. STOP KEEPING SCORE. This isn’t baseball. There’s no such thing as “three strikes you’re out” in being a parent. How many times have you “Counted to Three” only to extend that last “second” into an entire minute just to give your kid a chance to realize he’s f*cking up big time if you get to three? Exactly. Compassion.

I’m going to let you in on a little not-so-secret-secret. I got a DUI after Eric and I split up. FUCK, right? (This happened on my own time- kids were with their Dad). But this could really screw up custody for some people and cause a lot of conflict. It’s a huge mistake that effects not only me, but my kids, and my ex as well. You want to know who my *one* phone call was to? Eric. I called to give him a heads up so that he would know why I wasn’t answering my phone if something happened, and also to ask if he could call my Dad and tell him I wouldn’t be there for his Father’s Day dinner (facepalm, right?) He never once yelled at me. He might have had his fair share of venting and frustrations to his gf/friends/family… but I wouldn’t know because he never let me know. I already felt shitty about it and didn’t need him to rub it in my face. He was supportive instead, and I felt relieved. He could have yelled at me, and said some unkind things to me, threatened to take my kids away, made me feel worse, etc.. but he didn’t. He just simply said, “Shit man, that f*ing sucks.” I also could have spent the next two years trying to hide it from him, which would have caused me a lot of stress, and been a complete hassle to lie about, especially when that blow-n-go got installed.

Sidenote: *Trust was subconsciously being re-built between us because of the way we both responded to this incident, and we didn’t even know it*

The more understanding we can be with each other, the better. Understanding that at one point we were two people that became one…and then thereafter we had to undo all of that work, and companionship, and become two again. It takes time to rebuild. I try to understand that just as I am my own person with my own desires, dreams, goals, social/romantic life, etc… so is Eric. He wants something out of life, too. And while I’m not there anymore to hold his hand through it all, I can still be there to lift him up and help him achieve that.

Why would I want to do that for someone I clearly couldn’t get along with well enough to stay married to? Because he’s the father of my kids. He is their role model, their world, and therefore he is important to me, and so is his success. This doesn’t mean that I schedule his doctors appointments like I used to- I’m not his wife anymore- but I can cheer him on from the sidelines, and be understanding when he hits roadblocks that cause difficulties in his life.

This brings me to flexibility:

Life is messy. Kids are chaos. It’s just the way things are. So along with being understanding, you might want to start stretching. Your ability to be flexible with your child’s O/P is going to relieve you of a lot of stress.

Our particular custody schedule is as follows: I have the kids Sunday evening through Friday afternoon, and their Dad picks up Friday afternoon and returns Sunday evening, with the exception of the first weekend of the month.

This is just what the papers say. This is not always how it goes or what we do. This was a default agreement *in case we couldn’t agree*. But after trying it out, we realized the kids were really upset about not seeing their Dad for two weeks, so I gave up “my” first weekend of the month. Sometimes Eric has to work Saturdays, and I keep them on Fridays. We just do whatever works for all of us. I don’t look at our custody agreement as a strict rule we have to abide by, but more like a guideline. If Eric calls me and wants to take the kids to dinner, I say “Hell Yeah”, and it happens. Sometimes he even lets me tag along. I never turn down free food. If I want to do something special with them on a Saturday, during “his time” he usually lets me.

You’re not always going to get your way. Embrace it.

If I’ve learned anything in this co-parenting journey it’s that life is not always going to go as planned. Being set in my ways, and trust me- I was and sometimes still can be, has only caused stress and tension, and really in the end… doing things someone else’s way can sometimes be slightly refreshing. Sometimes.

Other noteworthy areas that are difficult to navigate: conflict, and dating. Conflict with each other, and dating without each other. This brings me back to letting it go. Just keep this in the back of your mind the whole time.

Navigating Conflict 

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Showing up to an event for our child in almost matching outfits, 3 years post separation

So now that I’ve spewed all this shit about how great we get along, etc etc you are probably thinking I have no experience and no idea what you’re dealing with because your situation is so much worse than mine. Wrong.

I am the queen of control. Eric is a stubborn Taurus. We are both hot heads. We got divorced for a reason. When we were married we did not have the tools, or know-how to navigate conflict, hence the frequent police visits. Again, if we can go from that to this, so can you. The conflict didn’t stop just because we moved to separate homes. We had to work really hard at it. Eventually, three things happened- I think we both just got tired of living in a constant state of stress; we got tired of the fight and the need to be right all the time. And we learned to let the past be in the past, to let things go, and move forward. And finally, we learned to apologize.

First tactic we had to learn: we don’t do any arguing or disagreeing in front of the kids. If we begin a conversation and it starts to turn into an argument or gets tense, we end it and come back to it later when we are both calm. We don’t discuss tense topics in front of the kids, ever.

And trust me, we learned this by experience. The effect it had on our kids was not pretty. It was ONE argument that took them about a year to forget. We had to work really hard to show them that we could get along, and that we were a team, friends even, despite all the other positive interactions they saw before and after that fight. They never forgot that one fight.

I touched on Eric’s little trick he developed to avoid conflict with me, which was useful for both of us… but I also had to learn a way to respond to when he was the one feeling snarky.

Besides first asking if now was a good time to talk, instead of demanding this conversation be had right now, one way was to always have the conversation over the phone so he could hear my tone of voice. It’s not always what you say, but how you say it. I’ve learned over the years how to deal with him in particular when he gets all amped up about something, so I just speak very calmly no matter what, and then he realizes the sincerity in my voice and calms down. I know that for some people they like to document everything just in case they need it in court, and I think this is pretty much bullshit. It added to the tension for us, made it seem like we were at war instead of looking for resolution. So we don’t have any big discussions over text. Things can be far too easily misconstrued.

It goes without saying that you should never speak negatively about the other parent in front of the kids, for soo many reasons. If you don’t know why, talk to me and I’ll give you a whole list. But this also includes saying anything negative about family members, or any of their Dad’s significant others within earshot of the kids. Hint: kids repeat shit.

Somewhere in the last 4 years we put our fists down and started to enjoy the friendship that remained from our relationship. There is no one greater to talk shit about your kids with than their other parent. It’s our favorite past time. We roast the hell out of our kids, laugh our asses off and then immediately agree, “aw but they’re so cute”… and there is no one else in the world that I can do this with.

If you truly just can’t seem to get along, it’s time to seek out a therapist. You’re stuck together, forever. Not just till they’re 18. You’re also going to share Grand-Children one day. You might as well figure it out now.

You don’t have to be friends. You don’t have to talk every day. But if you want to co-parent, you have to put the kids first, and figure out how to do it. I’m not a person that functions well in hostile environments, and I don’t like awkward or tense situations. I just want everyone to get along, and so I do the very best that I can and this is how I do it. I feel lucky to be able to call my ex-husband a friend and I know our kids enjoy being with both of us at the same time.

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OH YEAH, DATING. Oh the big D. That is a whole separate blog post which I will save for later… 

Survival Guide to Single Motherhood, or something like that.

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This June will mark the 4 year anniversary that my now ex-husband and I separated and I became a “Single Mom”. Since then, I unfortunately have not been the only one of my friends to get separated or divorced. This is not that surprising, given the statistics and ways of the world these days, but it is still nonetheless, equally sad and heartbreaking for those going through it.

For some odd reason, through these years I have become a person that many, many people have come to for advice. The advice requests range from how to be a single mom, how to co-parent, and just looking for comfort while going through a divorce. It never stops surprising me. Shocking me.

Like, do these people know that I burn Mac n Cheese, say F*ck a lot, and take my kid to school in my pajamas more times than I’d like to admit? What do I know??

Nothing really, I promise. But for those that are curious… I thought I’d type up all my “advice” and hand it out. Brace yourselves people, you’re about to find out how little I actually know.

SINGLE LIFE:

I believe there are all different types of single parent’s out there. No two situations are the same. My struggles may not be the same as yours. You might think you have it “worse” than someone else but I guarantee that you don’t. The grass is always greener, the tables always turn, and the world spins on. Every parent in the world–single or not- has a struggle that is unique to their situation. I feel that I have been extremely lucky to have gotten stuck sharing kids with a man who loves his kids and is an active father. And through the years, we have achieved a good balance on our parenting (which we’ll get to later). This does not mean, in any way, that we do not have our own struggles or that my life is any greater or any worse than yours. [However, give me a year, and I might have some insight on how to do the whole thing completely alone (cue 3rd baby)]. But with or without support, I still have my fair share of struggles. I mean, have you met my kids?

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To me, life is all about perspective. If you think your situation sucks, then of course it does. For a long time after my divorce, I put this label on myself: SINGLE MOM. It was a target I put on myself. I didn’t mean to do it, but I did. I made myself a victim, despite the fact that I chose this path. I chose to leave, I chose to pursue a different avenue of life. Somewhere in the past four years, I realized that this label put a wall up between me and… well, everyone. It not only scared off perspective men from dating me, it scared off friendships. I wasn’t as needy or damaged as this label was portraying me to be. In fact, I was actually thriving. But because I walked around with a giant sign on my chest labeled SINGLE MOM, I had somehow made my life seem like that was all it was about–about being a “Single Mom”, and eventually it did became about that. I fell into the stereotype of this label. Once I realized this I stopped labeling myself like that.

I am so much more than a Single Mom. 

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 I’m a mother. Who cares if I’m single?

So for now, my only advice on “Single Motherhood” is this:

  • You are not as alone as you think you are. When you think about the people that love you, it’s easy to say “but those people don’t count” when thinking of your parents, or long time friends….but they do. They do count. However, they are not mind readers, and they are also human. Don’t take them for granted. Ask for what you need. Give back in return.
  • Don’t cry over spilled milk. Seriously. It’s just milk. The way you react to little things is bigger than the spilled milk. Your kids learn from this, and reflect it.
  • The kids will be alright. One night, I was feeling overly stressed from work and my personal life. I had about an hour to feed the kids, bathe them, and get them to bed and I had already hit my wall. I burnt the f*ck out of the Mac N Cheese, and the smoke alarm was going off. I climbed onto the bookshelf to swat the alarm with a hand towel and was overly enthusiastic. The alarm went flying off the wall, and I ended up standing there on top of the bookshelf screaming “F*CK!” and my kids staring at me like the mad woman that I was. Until Ryan broke the silence, “Someone needs to count to 10, and take a deep breath.” (which is what I tell them all the time) I couldn’t help but laugh. I said f*ck it, ordered a pizza, got the kids in the bath while we waited, and left the kitchen a mess for the night. The kids didn’t go to bed till well after 10 o clock and they still lived.
  • Stop comparing your life to those on the internet. We’re all just faking it. Filters, and edits, and witty captions cover over a multitude of imperfections and messes. And seriously, you have no idea how many times it took to get that “picture perfect” photo.
  • Ask strangers to take the picture. Get in the picture. Get new family photos done. From the years 2009-2012… I dont exist. At least in photo form. I was the photographer. I have endless photos of my children and my ex-husband with the kids, but I’m nowhere to be found. Dont worry, I’ve more than made up for this since, but when I was looking back to find photos of my early motherhood stages, I was damn near devastated to not be able to find any proof that I was actually the one doing most of the work. Of course, I didn’t want photo’s of my ex-husband all over the walls of my brand new “Single Lady Apartment”… but he was everywhere. So I took new ones. Now I make sure I get some with me in it. And I had new family photos done, and it made a world of difference in how I felt about going it alone.
  • Dating is fun. Like really fun. I’m still a 16 year old boy crazy little girl. But friends are important, and so is family. Don’t make your life all about chasing tail, and finding your next replacement. Cultivate friendships and spend time with those that actually care about you. It’s okay to get a babysitter to go on a date, but my rule of thumb is that I never choose a date over time spent with my kids. ie. I date while my kids are at their Dad’s, and on rare occasions, (with a babysitter of course), after I put them to bed.
  • Don’t make yourself a martyr. Don’t run yourself into the ground because you’re too proud to take a break. You are NOT supermom. Nobody is. Despite how cool that label can make you feel. You will burn out eventually. If you need help, ask for it. I’m just going to be honest and say that 95% of the time when you’re whining about something, nobody is going to offer to help because they don’t want to, and whining is annoying. Think about what you need, and who can help you with that and ask for it. Like I said earlier, give back in return.
  • Keep your mental health in check. You are not above spiraling out. You are human.
  • Happy parents are the best parents– take time for yourself, make yourself a priority, buy yourself something nice, stop making excuses to skip the gym.
  • With that being said- life is all about balance. Write down your priorities, and keep them in check, often. Hint: your kids should be at the top of that list.
  • Learn to laugh at yourself. Life is not that serious. Kids are assholes, that’s universal. Learn to appreciate where you’re at right now. You only get this day once. You’re not getting out of this alive anyway. (this won’t mean anything to you until the moment has passed, so try to appreciate the generalization of this sentiment…it’s real)

 

Dealing with your divorce:

When people come to me for comfort I get really UN-comfortable. Like what do I do with my hands? Do they want a hug? Should I just sit here and watch them cry? There there, he’s a douchebag. I’m really bad at dealing with heartbreak. So I’m not your go-to girl for this. I will likely hand you a bottle of wine and make inappropriate jokes until you’re drunk enough to pass out.

I will tell you this though- everyone grieves differently. There’s nothing wrong with you if you want to listen to sad music and post sad poems, cry for days on end and not get out of bed. And there’s nothing wrong with you if you’re the one that goes out and takes on the world, reconnecting with the life you forgot was out there, and never cries at all. I was the latter, which often looks a lot like not caring. But trust me, I cared. Some of us are just better at hiding it than others, but that doesn’t mean that it’s not there. Divorce is painful, and sometimes that pain gets acted out differently. Do your own thing when it comes to your heart. There’s no right or wrong way to have your heart break,  and there’s no set time limit on when you have to “get over it”. I’m four years deep, and I still get sad about it, a lot.

Find joy in the little things.

For me, it’s having off white sheets, getting the whole bed to myself, picking the music in the car, and not having to listen to football talk.

Remind yourself of these joys frequently.

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Co-Parenting advice to be continued…

Unapologetic Female

 

In high school I had a close male friend tell me that maybe one of my problems with boys was that I was too outspoken, too loud. He said that boys didn’t like it, it wasn’t very attractive. And then he finished with a “but you do you, I’ll love you either way” kind of speech so as to not totally offend me… we were friends after all, and I truly think he was just trying to help.

This stuck in my head…well clearly, until forever because I still remember it. It wasn’t the last time I’d ever hear that sentiment.

I remember trying to be quiet and small for about a week until I couldn’t take it anymore and all of my bottled up feelings overspilled in what was likely one of my first feminist rants. I was never good at pretending to be anyone but myself.

 

I remember wanting to be on the football team in high school. I had a strong left kick and wanted to be the kicker. I wanted to make history. I wanted to do something important. But then I thought about what it would be like to be on the team with the same guys that I had crushes on. Many of my guy friends told me they wouldn’t go easy on me and they’d treat me like a dude if I wanted to act like one. I decided it wasn’t very ladylike of me and I’d never get a date to Prom. You should know that I don’t talk to any of these guys anymore, and I ended up dating a 22 year old my senior year and didn’t even go to Prom, anyway. What a waste of a left kick.

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I’m not quiet and reserved, dainty, and I don’t know how to contour. I have an opinion and you probably don’t like it. I speak my mind and care less about privacy, hence this damn blog. It took me a long time to come into my own, and learn that I can lift weights and wear lipstick, that if I want to get my nails done doesn’t mean I’m worried about breaking a nail–even though that definitely hurts like a bitch. In my teenage years, I struggled with wanting to be taken seriously and also wanting to be seen as a female, one that boys wanted to ask out. I think it’s still a struggle for some women- wanting to be respected and heard, but not wanting to come off as too much- too passionate, too overbearing. Today, I don’t worry so much about it. Through many, many experiences, I’ve learned that staying quiet never works for long anyway. I’d rather tell someone to fuck off and risk that they might not like me than waste energy on tip toeing around their fragile ego.

 

I once had a guy ask me to send him nudes. I’ve been asked this a million times and it doesn’t offend me in the slightest. But I wasn’t into this guy and he was annoying me. So I said “No.” He responded by telling me he was “going to pass” and I was so confused. Pass on what I asked? He said, “on hooking up” and I just laughed. Oh ok buddy. Laugh out loud.

I should also mention that I don’t find any women that are quiet, dainty, or reserved to be any less of a woman than those that want to march with vagina signs and shout at the top of their lungs. We are all women, with different personalities, different paths, and a different set of values.

My path as a woman has been somewhat confusing. I grew up with divorced parents; a strong, independent and fiercely feminist mother who mowed her own lawn and asked for power tools for Christmas and a conservative LDS father and siblings with traditional family roles. To sum it up, I grew up believing that I could do anything that I wanted, but in 8th grade when asked what I wanted to be when I grew up all I could think of that I truly wanted to be was a mother. I wanted a husband and the white picket fence, and I wanted a man to hold the door open for me and fix the fence… but I wanted to make history, and I wanted the pant suit and the power heels and to forge my own path but I didn’t quite know how to have it all. This was confusing to say the least, and so I’ve had to find my own path, one that fit for me. I tried on a lot of shoes, and eventually realized that I might have to have these shoes custom fit just for me. I couldn’t bear to walk in shoes that were uncomfortable, just for the sake of appearance. I’ve never been that kind of woman.

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I remember one of my friends dressed in a pink sweater saying she wanted to be the first female president, and I admired her for knowing what she wanted and for not giving a shit that being president had always been a man’s job. I always knew she could be if she wanted to be. She always wore pink and reminded me of Elle Woods in Legally Blonde. You should know she’s very successful and doing just as great as I always imagined her to.

It took me awhile but later in life, I realized that I can have a husband that holds the door and can fix the fence, but I can also be the woman that can do it all on her own if she wants. I can go to work and pay my own bills and I can come home and make crafts with my kids. I can be a good mother and not have to change all the diapers, and I can pump a bottle of breastmilk so my husband can feed the baby when he gets home and I can take a nap. And I can find happiness in all of this, without guilt or fear that anyone might think I’m any less of a woman, or too much of one.

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In my 29 years of life, I’ve been accused of being too outspoken, too opinionated, too sexual– “like a dude when it comes to sex”; I’ve been dumbed down for being a stay at home mother, I’ve been questioned about my need for a man, my abilities to manage my life without a man doubted; I’ve been told not to lift heavy so I don’t get bulky,  I’ve been told my thighs were too big, but not to lose my ass because it’s my best quality; I’ve been harassed for choosing to leave a relationship I was no longer happy in and questioned for staying in one that was believed I should have left, I’ve been villified for choosing to maintain a pregnancy in which the man has deserted, ridiculed and mocked for claiming to be independent while recieving child support, and even for choosing to work two jobs.

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And all I have to say is I’m not sorry. I don’t apologize for being me. I don’t apologize for always going after what I want. I’m not sorry if standing up for myself makes you uncomfortable, or if that makes me a bitch, or even a feminazi. I don’t apologize for loving my body in all of it’s forms, or for showing it off. I don’t apologize for making mistakes, or trying something on for size. I’m not sorry for changing my mind, or deciding that something no longer serves me or makes me feel good. I’m not sorry I didn’t text you back because I wasn’t interested, and I’m definitely not sorry for having a healthy sex life. I don’t apologize for making a choice about my own body or my life. I don’t apologize for being a mother that enjoys her space and independence. I don’t apologize that I want to be in a happy, fullfilling healthy relationship even if that means raising children in two households. I don’t apologize for demanding that a man be responsible for his actions, or that he share parental duties.

I’m not sorry I don’t fit in the little box society wants me to fit in. I’m not that kind of woman.

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What I’ve learned in life is that you can’t please everyone. You will be judged anyway so you might as well make a choice that will make you happy. If you want to strut on your way home from a one night stand, or send nudes you’re proud of… go for it. If you want to march and chant and strike, then do it. If these things makes you feel uncomfortable, then don’t do it. Don’t ever sacrifice your values or what makes you feel good for the sake of anyone else. If a man asks you to send nudes and you don’t want to, tell him no. If you want to sleep with him on the first date, then do it. If you earned that raise, then ask for it.  If you want to work construction, go put on a hard hat. If you want to keep your baby, then keep it. It’s your life, make the choice that works for you and don’t ever apologize for it.

Happy Women’s Day 🙂

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3/4 cup o’ sugar + 2 large eggs + 1/2 cup of butter…

Have you ever been approached by a small child who asks you somewhat rude and invasive questions because he doesn’t know any better, because… well he’s a small child. My kid is that kid. “Are you an elf?” …No… “Why are your ears sticking out then?”

He’s 5 so nobody really gets that mad. You ignore him and I quickly tell him to shut up and get him the hell away from you as fast as possible.

Today Ryan and I are walking to a few doctors appointments, one being my “baby appointment”… Despite having already gone through the whole new baby thing with his Dad just less than a year ago, he’s still very excited and asks me every question under the sun. Things like “is the baby going to come out today?” (Every.single.morning.) and “how does the baby come out” “are you going to get married” … Etc.

Today he asks me again just exactly how the baby got in my tummy. I said to him “Remember? Just like how (baby brother from Dad) was made… It’s kind of like making cookies. A bunch of ingredients get put together and then they go into the oven and cook for awhile. My tummy is the oven right now until the baby is ready to come out.” So of course, being the child that he is… So nosey and inquisitive… He asks me “What KIND of ingredients?” Lord help me.

I sigh because the question annoys me and we’re walking at an incline now so I need to catch my breath. I thought for a minute how I was going to go the next 6 1/2 months avoiding this question with him. I told him, “Well buddy, it’s not really relevant to your life right now, so you don’t need to know.” The thought of the uknown intrigued him far more than the reality of the answer would have, and although I realized this, I still felt like he was just too young to explain this to. He begged me to tell him anyway “Please, I really really want to know.” and so I finally told him without a high pitch in my voice (which is 100 percent indicator that I’m done answering questions and this is my final answer):

“When it becomes relevant to your life, I promise I will tell you. But for now, it’s just not something you need to know”

… He seemed to take this for a final answer and he had found a new walking stick anyway so he soon forgot about it.

Soloing


I told you all I would blog about my adventure as it was happening but I lied. Once my adventure began unfolding I was either too consumed or my head hit that pillow and I couldn’t even fathom writing a word before drifting off to sleep.

I decided early this year that I was going to check some things off my bucketlist, per usual.  My bucketlist is never ending, informal and made up in my head, and mostly daydreamy pictures on my Pinterest board that I want to see in real life. So if I die, direct my children to my Pinterest board and instruct them to follow my lead on all of the best places with the best views and the greatest adventure because I’ve been working on that Pinterest board for years and it’s good stuff. Ok? Please and thank you.

One of the things I wanted to do was see Big Sur. I’m a sucker for good views and the color teal. I heard the water was teal and the beaches were purple. Guess what? They are. A million photos could never do it justice.


When I heard my niece was getting married in Santa Barbara, I was thrilled. What better excuse to travel the Coast? This little lady made me an Auntie for the first time and I surely did not want to miss her special day. I racked my brain with people that would want to come with me, and if I would take the kids or not. I didn’t know anyone that could take the time off of work and/or their personal obligations. I have had this phrase playing in the back of my head for some years, and it always rears its head when I’m faced with a decision of wanting to do something but having nobody available to do it with.

“I was never going to go if I waited for someone to come with me”

Why would I pass up on a dream of mine because my friends agendas didn’t match mine?


I don’t fly well because of childhood ear issues so that was out of the question. Roadtrips are my jam anyway. Why would I take I-5 when I could take Highway 1 just as easily, pitch a tent for a night to enjoy the views rather than driving by in a whirlwind– having it be a view, rather than an experience.

I have always been a bit of a social butterfly loner. I love the chaos of lots of people, the parties, the city, the bustle, the busy. And then I want to go home and crawl into my bed to retreat into a book or music. I could be alone for days. As a teenager, I became very good at being alone, my mother always marveling at how independent I was, when really I just felt like I didn’t have a choice. Nobody was around to do things for me, so I just did them myself. As a young adult, I got my own apartment and lived on my own. As a wife and young mother I learned the value of being alone. My “friends” fell off the face of the earth and my husband worked 12 hours shifts and slept a lot, but it was okay. I needed that alone time. I needed to process and restore. It’s what writing has always done for me- given me time to reflect, digest, and express without actually having to talk to anyone.

People often see “alone” and intertwine it with “lonely”. You see someone eating dinner by themselves and you assume they have nobody to eat with, or staying home alone at night must mean you don’t have anyone to go out with or join you in. A few years ago, I was craving something particular and nobody was available to get lunch with me so I just said fuck it and went by myself. Let me tell you, it was awkward and fantastic. At first, I debated if I should pretend that I was meeting someone and then they never showed up but then decided that that was even more pathetic than just wanting to eat a meal. I kept looking around to see who was looking at me. And then I realized that nobody was, and I enjoyed my meal.


My trip went a lot like that, the enjoyment part. If I could relive that trip everyday, I would. I saw Big Sur, Los Angeles, Santa Barabara, Yosemite, and San Francisco all in 7 days. I ate lunch on a cliff overlooking the ocean, I slept on natures floor, pitched my own tent, made my own meal via headlamp, drove 13 hours straight with the same CD, stayed in 3 different hostels in 3 different cities, went hiking alone, ate ice cream on the Pier, danced with total strangers at a gay bar, buried my toes in purple sand, stopped 171 times to enjoy the view on my way down the 101- afraid to miss a single moment. And I did this all alone.

One thing that did not happen on my trip: I didn’t find myself. The chaos in my head calmed for a few days, but it didn’t go away. I didn’t have a huge epiphany about how to solve all my problems, or figure out how to fall asleep at night without wondering if my kids are going to be okay.

But I did learn the truth in the saying, “wherever you go, there you are”


I had a few good cries. I got more drunk than I intended. I called my friends, I facetimed my kids, I saw my family one day, and I met up with a long distance flame. Hell, I even went to my first strip club. And I extended my trip one day for selfish reasons and because I ran out of money and had to wait on a check to clear. And I laughed about it because here I was having this great adventure, in a different state, and I was still just “me”… Per usual.

You can’t run away from yourself, and you can’t hide who you are. And that’s all I learned.


Oh, and that one trip per year (minimum) is necessary. Because like, experience. And these views.

The Grass Is Greener Where You Water It

When I was a SAHM (Stay At Home Mom) people would say bizarre things to me, like how much they wished they had the luxury of staying home with their kids… as if reheating your coffee in the microwave at 2pm whilst still in your pj’s that you have probably been wearing for two days was somehow glamorous. Sure, I didnt have to go anywhere, but I still had things I had to do. My husband got to skip off to work with his shiny little lunch that I packed with not so much love and a whole lot of jealousy to go interact with adults and tell offensive jokes during lunch, while I stayed home and dealt with teething and tantrums and several walls that I stared endlessly and ate lunch with a kid who threw his food at me, and then on the floor.

I’m convinced this is why people always pop out babies like Pringles. Because the wives are actually bored and we’re convinced that another will make it all the more lovely and entertaining. Sure, there will now be two or three tiny dictators, but think of the matching outfits and mostly, they will have a playmate for life. Which means we can have some time to sit down and knock out some of that tedious To Do List, like “Return to Amazon”…. shit, that was a year ago. Except none of this is true. More kids equal more work. The minute you sit down, all hell will break lose or somebody decides that they’re thirsty.

As a SAHM, I took care of the house because my husband worked. I also took care of him because it felt fair. I let him sleep, I made his lunch, I reminded him repetetively of the things he did have to do, like bring home his tupperware. I did laundry for four, I cooked for four, I did dishes and housework for four. I picked up toys endlessly thrown onto the ground. I did the planning of all the boring things like calling Comcast to argue about a bill for 3 hours, figure out which preschool was best, read about development and scoured the internet to identify that rash. I unintentionlly memorized all the words to Thomas the Train and Little Einstein’s. My husband worked long hours and was the sole provider for our family, so it only seemed fair to endure a little boredom and get a head start on senility for the coveted housewife life.

I wandered through that house wondering what I was missing. Read blog after blog of these women that led fabulous lives and had cute Starbucks dates with their girlfriends while their children sat quietly next to them and I wondered what I was doing wrong? I tried to go inside a Starbucks once with my kids to meet a friends for coffee and I almost had to buy the entire wall of mugs. My pictures always came out a little smudgy, my kid’s nose was always drippy, it had been years since I had been able to afford an entire wardrobe from Nordstrom’s, and my messy bun never looked that cute, ever.

One day I woke up and I just didn’t want it. I realized it just wasn’t for me. I had had other plans for my life and this was never part of my vision. I had seen myself in a business suit in New York writing reviews for Fashion Week or participating in a big fancy important advertising launch. I had even seen myself in a tiny apartment with nothing but a typewriter and a mattress writing away at my first novel. But I had never seen myself pre-25, married with two kids, hanging out at home all day with a baby on my hip doing arts and crafts to pass the time.

Fast forward two years and all my dreams came true. While I was still in Washington and my vision had changed from business suit to scrubs, I definitely had a busy life and I had not only one, but two jobs. There was no more husband and no more boredom, but there were still two tiny tyrants demanding assistance with their every need and want. Here I was in a tiny apartment with barely more than my computer, a bookshelf, and a couple mattresses and as I laid down at night with two tiny bodies cuddled up next to me, I found myself dreaming of another life… one with a slower pace. I pictured myself in a cute little house with a handsome husband, and the luxury of not having to work. I would drive carpool and make cute crafts with my kids after school. I dreamt of soccer practices and family vacations, barbeques in the backyard and family dinners… I fell asleep dreaming of my old life.

Funny, huh? Or not so funny, sad.

Took me awhile to see what was really important to me, but once I realized the grass is greener where you water it, I began to water my grass.

Today, my life is weird. I’m a student, a SAHM and a single Mom. Some days I find myself bored and others I crawl into bed at 9. Some weekends- while the kids are away- I stay in my sweatpants and tuck myself in at 9pm and others I revert to my younger, unattached self and go out and stay up late participating in shenanigans that cannot be talked about on the internet. I talked my ex into helping me coach T-Ball, my kids are in swim lessons, and between my own school work, a bit of therapy, and housework… I have found a way to stay busy at what feels like a “healthy pace” for me. I’ve also learned to take time for myself and do what I feel like I need to do to stay sane throughout. I used to feel like I was taking one for the team by suffering in silence and just trucking through the misery I was experiencing, but with that came my massive quarter life crisis where I couldn’t handle it anymore and turned everyone’s lives upside down.

So with that being said, I decided that after three years… I’m taking a kid-free vacation. Actually, it’s mostly a people-free vacation as well. My niece is getting married down in Santa Barbara, and as I didn’t want to miss it…I used this opportunity to take a trip I’ve been wanting to take for some time. I’ve been dreaming of Big Sur and Yosemite for a few years now, and I’ve also been dreaming of some long desired alone time.

If you ever feel like you’re “just a mom”, try to go out of town for seven days.

After careful planning, I can only hope that these days will go by smoothly for my kids and friends and family (and T-Ball team) that will be helping fill my role…and I can only hope that they don’t call me that much 😛

I had originally planned to take this time to fly solo and cut myself off from the world for a few days but in light of recent events in the area, I had a change of heart. Because I am flying solo for the majority of this trip, I decided it best for me to keep several people informed of my whereabouts and maybe, to not talk to handsome strangers. I will be attempting to blog in places where I have service, and plan to share my adventure mostly that way.

Thank you to all that are so generously helping this trip happen- from babysitting, lending gear, dog sitting, being the best neighbor ever, etc. I love and appreciate you all!

 

Here’s to new adventures, solitude, and hella trees.

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The girl that always said yes.

First of all, THANK YOU to all the guys that have harassed bombarded me over the past couple years days. You are all the inspiration for this post. I have some things I have to get off my chest now. In my shiny new blog.

I thought we’d start off with some boundaries.

Yes, I’m an open person. I invite you all to read what I choose to put out in the world. I invite you all to discuss things with me. I love discussions. I love hearing what other people have to say, their personal experiences, etc. That’s why I blog. To talk. To get things off my chest in hopes that maybe someone else out there gets something from it, or that maybe I do.

I have always been the girl that says yes. Yes, I’ll go on a date with you even though I don’t want to. Yes, I’ll pick you up even though it’s totally out of my way. Yes, I can lend you money even though you haven’t paid me back from the last time. Yes, yes, yes. Mostly because I never wanted to hurt anyone’s feelings. And that has landed me in some very uncomfortable, undesirable, and very unsafe places. Now I say yes to what I want to do, and NO to what I don’t want to. Yes, sometimes it’s uncomfortable. No, you can’t change my mind.

Yes means yes, and no means no. No match, not interested, no date.

I’m about to break it down for you.

Yes, I have a blog and yes its public and I write about dating and my personal life. That’s my choice.That is NOT an open invitation to harass me.

YES I AM DATING. No, that does not mean I want to date anyone and/or everyone.

Let me help you guys out.

When you use a dating site, the beauty of the app is that it does all the guesswork for you. It tells you before you even have to wonder whether the person is even remotely interested in you. It says “YES! It’s a match” You matched with a total stranger based off totally shallow superficial traits. Good for you. You don’t have to wonder if selfie queen likes you back because they already said they did. At least, your appearance anyway.

But unlike messaging someone you’ve matched with, it is creepy to seek someone out that has not matched with you. If you see someone on a dating site, and there is no match it means they didn’t swipe right. They didn’t say YES. If it’s a site like OKCupid and no swiping/matching is involved, and you message them and they don’t respond… the last thing you should do is go find them on social media. Because now you’ve lost before you’ve even begun. This is desperate. Laws of attraction people. C’mon. This isn’t kindergarten. That is creepy. Nobody wants to date a creep.

Sometimes I take breaks from dating.  Sometimes I date the same guy for a few weeks while I feel things out, and I delete the apps on my phone. Sometimes I delete the apps because I need more room to take all my billion photos each day. Sometimes I’m just not interested in dating at the moment.  If I’m not responding to you, it’s because I’m either busy or I don’t want to talk to you. I could just flat out not be attracted to you or you’ve sent me several messages and now I’m REALLY not interested. Sometimes, I’m just hung up on some other guy. Sometimes your Instagram pictures are weird. You take too many selfies. You don’t have any pictures with trees. Or you post too many pictures with girls. Or it’s clear your baby mama and you have some drama. Hell, if you have a Chihuahua… that’s reason enough for me because I don’t like little dogs. Whatever it is, it’s my reason for deciding that I’m not interested.

Me ignoring you is not ghosting you. It’s me, being not interested in responding to you. That’s a sign! You should read it! No response is the only response you need!

Let me tell you about a guy that I turned down, that won.

I matched with this guy on Tinder awhile ago, like a year or two. We talked for a bit but I wasn’t super feelin it. He was polite and the conversation was good but for some reason I just wasn’t sure about dating him. This had nothing to do with him. It was because I was using Tinder as a distraction from my on again/ off again boyfriend. And things were about to come back on. Against my better judgement, I went on the date anyway. I had a good time and he was polite, great conversationalist, had his life together, etc… but I still wasn’t super feelin it. I was highly distracted by my sometimes ex-boyfriend. Tinder guy was a total gentleman, sent me flowers at work, and asked me on another date. I was flattered, and felt bad for not being that interested. I did go out with him again, but again was not feeling itand ultimately felt bad. I eventually told him that something was missing, but that I thought he was a nice guy and really, really appreciated the flowers.  He took it in stride and thanked me for being honest. That was it. He didn’t message me obsessively or stalk me on facebook or social media. And you know what? After I realized that things still sucked with my on again/ off again boyfriend, I felt like a fool. So I reached out to him, and I asked him out. He turned me down.

I have always felt like I missed out on a really nice guy (and some Seahawks tickets) because my head was stuck up my ass. Who knows- maybe- probably I would have gone out with him again only to realize I still wasn’t that interested. But the fact is that as soon as I told him how I felt, that was all he needed. He was confident and secure enough to know that he wanted to be with someone that was super into him, and that was attractive.

The moral is, there are signs and you should read them. I don’t enjoy being a bitch, and I don’t enjoy being harassed. If you ask me out and I say no, then I mean no. No means no. Trying to convince me, or getting mad, trying to manipulate me into feeling guilty- whatever desperate tactic you’re using is actually just pissing me off enough to write a blog about it. Who knows, maybe you just really wanted to end up one of the guys I blog about.

But there’s one common denominator in all of the guys I blog about– none of them are in my life anymore.