Monday, June 17, 2013

Father's Day Blues...

Today was Father's Day.  I love my Dad. No, he wasn't perfect, but he was and still is a great Father. I love the relationship that I have with him and cherish every conversation that we have. One of the perks of becoming a parent is the almost instantaneous realization that all those times as a child or adolescent that I thought were horrible because of my parents were actually really awesome. The understanding that everything they did, was out of love for me and my brothers and that even when I felt that they were going to ruin my life, really they were making it better. Yes, they messed up, but they did the best that they could with what they knew and it was always in the name of love. There is no manual on how to be a perfect parent. It is a learning process that evolves with each child and with each year of their lives. Everyone in this world should be so lucky as to have that "a-ha" moment of realization. The amount of love and respect that I had for my parents tripled with the birth of each one of my own children. It is very comforting to know that one day, my kids will also gain that extra helping of love and respect for me.

Having spent the past week in a state of reflection, regret, happiness, and pride, I was conflicted about this particular day - as I was last month on Mother's Day. Being divorced at the age of 41, with three children, was not on my list of things to accomplish in my adult life. I never wanted to put my kids through the pain of divorce. It wasn't something that I was flippant about either. I waited, and hoped that things might change, praying fervently that somehow we could work through the issues and come out on the other side, still married and more in love than we were on the day that we got married. After all, my parents sacrificed for me and stayed together when their marriage seemed to be heading south. Sadly, that was not to be for me. So now, my kids are having to learn the tough lesson that saying you are sorry isn't always going to make things better. They are learning that relationships are complicated and that adults can sometimes be more childish than the kids are. Denver and I are working on making this easier for them. We are friendly, most of the time, and even spend time together as a family occasionally - albeit a slightly broken family.

Today was my weekend with the kids. But, in the spirit of trying to show them that they are more important that anything else, Denver joined us for dinner and dessert. It was a really nice day. Denver took Evan fishing and the kids were able to spend time with their Dad in spite of the situation. I hope it will always be this way. I hope that no matter where life takes us, and no matter who either one of us ends up in a new relationship with, we can remember how important it is to put the kids first. I watched Denver's first wife nearly destroy the son they shared together by putting herself first. Although I have more empathy for her now than I ever did in the past, I am saddened by the way that she handled their divorce and the effect that it had on Alec, who is now 18. He could have had a life enriched by two loving families rather than the one he lived, feeling forced to choose sides. I see glimpses of understanding in him now, but sadly he grew up barely knowing my kids, his siblings, and only tolerating me as his step-mother no matter how much I tried to be his friend and to love him. In the end it was really Alec that suffered more than any of us.

I know it will be difficult when Denver finally moves on and finds another woman to love and share his life with. I can imagine how hard it was for Nathalie to allow another woman to mother her son, even if it was only for a weekend or a couple of weeks each year. I don't like the idea of my kids loving another woman as a mother-figure. But it is the reality that I face and they will be better off feeling that they are allowed. Feeling that they don't have to choose. I can suppress those fears for the sake of their mental health and well-being. I hope that Denver will do the same.

No, this was definitely not the way I pictured my life would turn out. I have no idea what is in store for me. I lay awake at night and wonder:  Will I find someone that I can share my life with? Someone who can handle my baggage and still love me? Or will I spend the rest of my life alone? Trying to figure out how to date again and still be a good mother is exhausting and frightening. Some days, I don't want to even bother. But on the weekends that my kids are with their Father, I am lonely and I know that I don't want to be alone. I am grateful, however, that my parents taught me independence. They taught me how to take care of myself and they are still teaching me. So, if it happens to be that I never find someone to love and share my life with, I will be able to survive and to do so with grace. And one day I know that my children will understand why they had to go through this. They will see me differently and know that leaving their father was not an act of selfishness - even though I am certain this thought has crossed their young minds already. Sometimes, divorce is necessary. Sometimes divorce creates better parents. But it always sucks and I will probably always mourn what should have been, in one way or another - even when I have moved on.

Sunday, June 16, 2013

Memory Lane...

God bless the world of digital photography. I love that I can take pictures, simply plug my camera or phone into the computer and ready to edit, print, and share.  Over the past 3 years I have averaged about 2400 pictures each year. That is 7200 pictures! Acquiring an iPhone, which takes fantastic pictures, and an iMac desktop computer, which has iPhoto - the easiest way to download and edit pictures - has really contributed to my picture excess. The total number of pictures on my computer is somewhere around 8700. Although iPhoto organizes the pictures by date, there are a lot of scanned pictures from the "old days" before we had digital cameras that I have to manually fix. What this equates to is A LOT of hours in front of the computer. I am trying to get everything organized by year because eventually I would like to make year books with printed versions of the best photos.

All of that aside, it has been both a sobering and joyful experience walking down memory lane this week. The reality, that my oldest son, who I swear was just born last year, is 5 years away from graduating from high school, has hit me really hard. 5 years!  I have teared up every time I think about it. It starts me down a path of thinking about all of the things I haven't done for him and my other two. The fact that we have never owned our own home. Never been to Disneyland. No awesome kid friendly backyard that he got to make memories in, jumping on the tramp we have never owned. No camping - don't even own a tent...and on and on. Really depressing huh?

But thankfully, I have great friends who remind me that what my children DO have is a childhood that has been full of LOVE. I have given them structure, taught them about consequences, kissed their hurts, cried with them, been to almost all of their school performances, involved them in sports and theater and music, and tried as hard as I could to be the best Mother they could ever want or need. And even though we haven't actually owned a home, my kids have and will continue to attend the same schools and we have at the very least remained the in same neighborhood of sorts so at least they feel rooted here. That counts for something, right? I am certainly not perfect, but nothing in life is and that is a valuable lesson, which hopefully, when they are grown and have children of their own, they will be able to look back and understand just how important that lesson has been for them. Now, I just have to work on getting them to Disneyland before Ian turns 16.

Addison as young Merida in the musical "A Brave Tale"

The lead actors in the play

A day at the park

Ian's violin recital

Hiking with Dad

Learning to FlyFish

Saturday, June 1, 2013

Tap tap this thing on?

Yeah yeah...I know. Where the heck have we been?! Well, I could tell you every depressing detail of the past 9 months but if I did that, it would be days before I got anything posted. So in lieu of spilling my guts and making excuses, I will just try to catch up as quickly as I can.

Looking at the last post I see that I had just lost my job but was eagerly awaiting news from some good prospects. Let's just sum that up - they never happened. In fact, on Monday, 9 months after losing my job, I will finally start a new job that is paying me almost what I was making last August. In the middle of those 9 months were 3 full months of excruciating job hunting - which brought nothing. A desperate attempt to have money for Christmas by applying for and obtaining a retail job at Nordstrom which equated to 2 full months of working on my feet for 8 hours a day, on a commission only basis, selling men's suits. I don't think I have ever seen blisters like the ones I was sporting during this bleak period. Oh, and two days ago, almost 4 months after quitting this job at Nordstrom, I finally lost the big toenail on my right foot, which died about 3 weeks into my job there. I am definitely NOT cut out for the retail business.
The peril's of working retail during Christmas
Right around the first of February, I accepted a temp job at the University of Utah and quit the Nordstrom job. Even though it was through the temp service, the job was for a long enough period of time that I thought it might be a good "foot in the door" to a permanent job at the University. I started working as the Executive Assistant to the Chair of the Neurology Department at the School of Medicine. Turns out it was a good move, even though the pay was pretty insulting. So, Monday I start as an Executive Assistant to a Doctor at the Moran Eye Center, also still with the School of Medicine at the University of Utah.  I have benefits again, pretty decent wages, and the best part is 50% off tuition for me and my kids! Guess I will be going for that Masters Degree soon!

We did finally move from student housing during the first week of December. It snowed the day we moved, which was just another splendid facet of the 9 month hole I was in. But, we are in an actual house, with TWO bathrooms - Hallelujah - and a fantastic kitchen. I couldn't be happier unless I actually owned the house. day.

Goodbye to our teeny tiny, cinder block student apartments
We live right below this trail - a beautiful hike with my kids
From the mountain above our home
Ian turned 12 in October, which is nuts. Evan and Addison both had a birthday in April with Evan turning 11 and Addison turning 7 - Holy cow. They are growing up so fast, I can barely keep up.

Ian''s Birthday at the Olive Garden
Addie and Evan's birthday at Hollywood Connection
Evan and Addison's birthday
They have spent this year involved in Up With Kids (theater group) and Addison has also been taking ballet. I rejoined my writing group in January, something I just couldn't bring myself to do for quite a while due to my situation. There is something sad about only writing depressing material, hence the reason for my blog hiatus. But, being back has refreshed my brain and reconnected me with people that I respect and enjoy spending time with. And, best of all, I finally feel able to do the things that bring me the most joy again!

My budding actor's after their theater group play performance
Addison with Ms. Laurie, her ballet teacher
My tiny dancer

All in all, there wasn't much to catch up on I guess. Life kind of stopped for a while there and I just did my best to muddle through it. I have to admit that there were some pretty dark days and a lot of pity parties being thrown on my behalf. The first six months of 2012 were so fabulous and I was so full of hope, looking forward to a bright future etc. etc....then it just came crashing down around me. I'm sure I am not the first person to go through it but I pray to God that I don't have to do it again anytime soon.  For the first time since September, I am finally breathing again...cautiously.

Here are a couple of pictures that highlight happier times during the past nine months (clearly out of order) :

Halloween trick-or-treating with Soren and Jude

Thanksgiving in Reno with my parents and uncle Jeff (not pictured) and Dooley the big ole' dog.


Addison's First grade program

Evan's 5th grade Great Americans program as Neil Armstrong

Easter Morning

At the Bee's game with their dad

My dates to the Mormon Tabernacle Choir Christmas concert with Alfie Boe!

Our Christmas tree, put up during the second week of December and the week after moving in to our new house

Christmas Eve

Worst winter in 17 years...cant remember getting this much snow - at least not as an adult.

Addison's as Mama Bear in her 1st grade Literacy Fair play

Hot chocolate after shoveling 2 feet of snow off the driveway

Addison sang "Castle on a Cloud" from Les Miserables during theater group

Mother's Day 2013 in the mountains

My handsome Ian - on Valentines Day 2013

Sweet Evan - on Valentines Day 2013

Shopping at the mall with my girl

Growing girl