Sunday, January 23, 2011

Please Go Away So That I Can Try to Miss You

My two weeks as a single mom seemed to fly by. It was easy to overlook the difficulties, since I knew I only have to endure for 14 days. We actually had a blast and I took a few lessons from it.

First, once again I am reminded that I am essentially a "lone wolf." Now, that surprises some who think I am outgoing & often gregarious in nature. I can be, sure, and I take great satisfaction from learning about people and exploring the psyche. And anyone who has me on Facebook probably recognizes that I love to make people laugh. But I need my quiet time, my down time, my hours of reflection and solitude. I had both more and less of that with hubby gone. I didn't have a chance to share little man duties- I was always on. However, I did have more quiet time overall.

On that note, I recognize that successful single moms have the gift of raising their child on their own terms. They must also build a layered support system. There wasn't a chance to go to yoga or run out to the store. And when I had to drive long distances for work, I worried what would happen if I were to get in an accident.

I got the chance to hang out twice with other moms while the kids played. And that's twice more than I usually get to. That gets to the heart of a big yearning that I have... to cultivate more "family friends." The kind of friends that you hang out with for picnics and beach escapes and camping trips and SuperBowl. I dearly treasure the friends I have in my life and all the different roles that we play for each other, but it would be such a relief to throw hubby to a pack of men in front of a TV, throw the kids in a room to run wild, and just hang with my gals while knowing that everyone is getting their social needs met. The responsibility of having to be the social director around here gets to me sometimes, and leaves me wanting.

We drove to JAX last weekend to pick up the weary traveling hubby. It was a smooth drive with blessedly sunny weather and a litany of "are we there yet" from the little man, along with strange impromptu games that I created as a distraction. It helps that I genuinely enjoy my little man's company and at age five, he continues to amuse me with his observations on the world.

Husband secured, we sought food and shelter and ended up in a slightly aged Marriott with an indoor pool and hot tub. This is a nice tradition in our little family: the hotel vacation. It doesn't matter where we are, just give us a night or two with a soft bed, cable TV and a pool and we are quite happy. We tried to cap the night off with a visit to the newly opened Pollo Tropical in JAX. We don't have this particular fast food place in our hometown, so I look forward to visits to other Florida cities to get my fix of the "Floribean" cuisine. Apparently, so does everyone else in the state, as there was a series of stanchions, a red carpet, and an insane wait to get into the place at 8:30pm. This is in a part of town with about 5,000 other options, by the way. So I gave up my dream of grilled chicken, sassy sauces and yucca and we ended up at Bono's bbq, where we had banana pudding that truly rocked my world.

Sunday presented us with another beautiful, if chilly day, and we checked out and headed back to battle for a place at Pollo Tropical. This time we were successful and I gleefully feasted- little man reflects my pleasure:

After that, we stopped at a car lot, which ended up sucking away our collective life force. See, hubby has been driving the first car I ever purchased on my own- a 2000 Ford ZX2. It was such a fun car for so long- little, black, sporty, with a sunroof and two-toned leather seats. It wasn't anyone's dream car but mine and I had fun with it for a good many years. However, it started to cause problems around 2005 and I soon handed it over to hubby for his short daily school commute while I drove the new family friendly- and boring base model- Honda. Fast forward- and I do mean fast- another five years and the little car is painfully showing her age and wear. Smoking, breaking down, flaking paint, torn leather, missing side mirrors and big gashes in the side- let's just say she wasn't as loved and cherished in the last five years of her life (hum, that's sometimes how I feel- might be a pattern.)

*** I stop here for a moment and reflect on why I don't write more. We have a little house. I started this when I threw the boys out for a quick trip to Target. They are back, pounding on things and blowing on a didgeridoo. No, I'm not kidding. Oh how I need a quiet place to call my own!***

So, where was I? Oh yes, lamenting that I have spent the last six weeks looking for a new car. Edmund's, Consumer Reports... I've spent serious time with them all. Safe, economical, reliable, highly rated, in my budget... I want it all. And, I want it to be fun. I want something I will be proud to drive. Something that makes me smile as I slide behind the wheel. And for my particular tastes, I want a black car with a sunroof. If I'm writing a check every month, can I not enjoy it?

My specific tastes have led to various, unsatisfactory tangos with car salesmen, but no new car yet. Will I be able to find true love within my budget? The verdict is out on that one.

In the meantime, we finally escaped the dealership and turn a few turns to buy gas for our thirsty tank. It was a strange part of town, but I was fascinated with the colorful little cottages that I spied across from the station. An "antiques" sign was a beacon of glorious things to come. Here's a sneak peak of the outside...

We'll delve inside for the fun discoveries the next time I get a few minutes of quiet. For now, I have monkeys to train.

Friday, January 7, 2011

The Healing Power of Pie Crust

It's five days into hubby's travel adventure. So far I'm swinging single motherhood just fine, but I can easily see how much life would need to adjust & evolve if this was a longer term proposition.

I've had a lot of my mind lately and I'm happy just to ramble aimlessly here. I think it will be good just to throw it all out and make sense of it later.

Right now it's 9:30 at night. It's Friday and little man is still up- not a surprise, since we tend to be night owls. And I'm letting him watch a little Netflix. While I constantly campaign to cut back on television & movie consumption, I think we both need some chill time right now.

I picked him up from school today and we headed off to test drive a used Altima. It's to the point that I just don't feel safe with my men in the car that they are currently driving- 11 years old, missing side mirrors and smoking profusely. Definitely not on any Safety Ratings lists. I should know- I've been doing so much car research that my head is about to explode.

When we were about half way to the car lot, the salesman called to inform me that the car I had planned to drive was going through the Nissan certification process. My headache was starting to assert itself, so we stopped to get some Advil and a bite for LM. Then we hit Publix and wow- it was busy and full of very rude people. By the time I rang up over $100 in groceries and fought my way home, I was not full of happy unicorn kisses.

Luckily, the caffeine and advil have kicked in some and I made a tasty quiche. Truly, I would be hard pressed to find something that could not be baked inside of a pie crust that didn't make the world just a little bit brighter.

I'm looking forward to the weekend- we have some fun social things planned and it will be nice to be out of the house. Working from home is such a blessing, but it's been so quiet this week with the sudden exodus of my noisy men (big & small) that I've honestly felt depression creeping around me, looking for a place to park permanently. Despite walking two mornings, I have not been making healthy choices and have fallen prey to some pretty heady emotional eating. Going be to tackle that issue this next week as I get stronger and a little less fearful.

I got my notice to renew my driver's license and it was a shock. It's the first time I've ever had to do it- it's the first time I've been in one place long enough. I had a few moments of sadness because I remember getting it in 2004 and looking forward to moving away "no later than 2010." I wonder how my life would have been if we had- if I left last summer, never to have made the vital error of getting (and losing) the "dream job" in the spring. It sure would have saved a lot of pain. However, I can't help but feel that the limbo and the path since are part of a much grander plan.

It's so odd to be peering at 35. Ten years ago, I thought I was really going places professionally. Eight years ago it was even more intense and I was in my happiest professional stride. I felt like I had hit so many of my goals. I bought a house. I was ahead of the curve. Since then I've hit a mudslide. I've been blessed with one child, but yearn for another whose soul I feel so tangibly in my life. I haven't achieved the things I hoped for academically, putting my goals on hold until hubby finished his doctorate. And the years have flown by. Now I feel suddenly older, but unsettled by unmet goals. Not unhappy, just unsettled. It's like I was in a sprinting contest and then suddenly fell in a ditch and had to watch everyone run by as my leg heals (yeah, I still have the headache, so I just don't have graceful writing in me right now).

It's been over a year since I returned "home" to visit my family in Kentucky. In that time, my step-grandmother has died. And last week, so did one of my step-aunts. It bothers me that I haven't gone back for their services. I am at a loss on how to send my love and support.

It also bothers me that it's been so long since I've seen my sisters. Other than a few posts on Facebook, we are just not in each others lives and that makes me sad. I want LM to have a big, loud, happy family- if not in our home with lots of siblings, than at least through extended family. And yet I feel like we are on opposite ice floes, floating farther and farther away from each other.

I'm listening to Tracy Chapman tonight- one of my traits that can drive others nuts is my ability to listen to a song over and over again. This one is on repeat tonight. So beautiful.

Alright, so in my constant journey to be more honest and raw, I'm just going to hit "publish" now. No editing, no polishing my words to make my message less offensive or more clear. This is but a moment in a beautifully imperfect life.

Sunday, January 2, 2011

Playing the Numbers

I have so many fragments started, important things that I want to say and say just so. And yet, I can't seem to find the time to finish them, so they stay in rough draft limbo.

Today, I am just going to capture a few thoughts on my mind- short and undeveloped- about a few numbers that are rolling around in my noggin.

It seems like once September hit, that 2010 was over before I knew it. The holidays caught me less prepared than normal and I'm still wrapping my mind around this 2011 idea.

I have lived in my current home for more than six years now and that is the longest I have lived in one house since I was nine years old. I certainly have enough accumulated here to make it look as if we have been here for decades. My parents divorced when I was 11 and I spent a lot of weekends living out of a giant Gap bag- and I think that has something to do with how I feel now. And how is that? Both comfortable and afraid of the looming possibility of change and also restless sometimes, as if I am waiting for the rest of my life to begin. This is truly the home where we became a family and each wall holds a thousand memories of our time together.

I'm starting to accept that I am the vessel of many contradictions and that's OK- the synergy somehow keeps me in a state of balance. At least, on a good day.

The other number I'm peering at is 1995. My husband is about to leave on a two week, five-city interview circuit to try to get an intern position in order to finish his doctorate. We haven't been apart for two weeks since 1995. Even when we lived more than two hours apart, we always saw each other on the weekends. I'm excited for him and excited for me- let's see if I can make some of the changes that I always think I would make if I lived alone. Let's see if I can handle being a single mom, even knowing it's only for two weeks. Let's see if I can be brave and sleep soundly. It will be hard, but it will be good for both of us to reawaken some of the emotional muscles that we can let atrophy as we faced the world as a couple. Although I laugh as I type that, because even now we are getting ready to leave to buy more last minutes essentials for the trip.

My front door is open to the rain- it's the second day of the year and the rain has been nonstop. We need it and despite the havoc it plays on my sinuses, I always appreciate a cleansing rain. Little man is lying on the porch swing, thumb in mouth and blankie securely grasped as he hums a little tune.

And so we are here.

Quietly peering at 2011 and the change that she will be bringing.