Sunday, March 27, 2011

Close your eyes and taste it

I've been involved in Community Theater in my hometown for the last year or so. I've done two shows and find them all-consuming. When I'm involved in a show my life consists of getting up in the morning, working from 8-5, rehearsal from 6-9 four days a week, and then coming home and going to bed. The next day, well, you get it: Lather, rinse, repeat. By the time Friday rolls around I'm too tired to conceive of doing much of anything, let alone cooking or baking.

But yesterday and today I had some time to play around in the kitchen. I was getting ready for a cast party tonight and was preparing food to take along. I had forgotten how calming food can be for me. Sure, eating it calms me down (I'm an emotional eater). But preparing it and thinking about the people I'm going to share it with also has an effect on me.

After Ron died and I was back to cooking for one, food just didn't seem as exciting. I ate only as a way to keep my body moving. It had lost all enjoyment. But today, I really go to thinking about where my love of food comes from.

Growing up we had everything we needed. There wasn't a lot of extra money floating around our house, but I don't ever remember there ever being a time when we didn't have plenty. Sometime during the last year I got to talking with my Dad about what it was like when they were young and going through similar financial struggles. He told me that his thought had always been, if there wasn't going to be extra money, then he was going to make sure they ate well. And we did!

Mom is a great cook. She makes food that to this day I crave when I need comfort. So, of course I turn to food when I'm feeling low. And it's not just having or eating food that brings me comfort. I have this NEED to share what I make. I love to think about how others are going to react to what I've made. I love seeing people put a bite in their mouth and then close their eyes as they savor it.

Food makes me happy, but most of all when I can share it with people I care about.

Monday, February 14, 2011

Someday I'll be a Widow Scout

I've come to the conclusion that there must be some perks to being a widow or widower. Since I really have yet to find any, I've decided to come up with my own reward system. I'm basing its design on merit badges earned in groups such as Girl Scouts and Boy Scouts.

The sash comes with the title (widow or widower). No need to pay any dues. Trust me, if you haven't already paid them, they'll come due soon enough. And you won't believe the frequency with which you'll have to pay them.

I've already earned several badges, but I'm sure many more will become available as I continue living this life. There are lots of badges for firsts: first holiday, first night spent alone, first time you realize that you're no longer numb and this hurts way more than anything else you've ever experienced.

Some that I've already earned? Well, I've got the "I just found out there's no life insurance" badge. I'm also ready to sew on the "I used to enjoy holidays and birthdays" badge. There's a really worn looking badge on my sash...that's the one that indicates all the frayed nerves I've experienced. Also, I'm proud owner of "The recycling man really loves me because of all the empty wine bottles I put out" and the "I survived the call from the Social Security Administration". Anyone who's been a part of that call understands why that badge is bigger than the rest.

Some of the badges are really beautiful. There's the one that identifies me as a proud but unwilling single parent. You see, that one was given to me by my daughter and she put all the love she had into it. There's also the badge for the day I realized that even though I had changed completely, I was going to come out of this as a better woman.

But none of these are my favorite. My favorite badge is a small, nondescript white one. That badge holds a place of honor. It designates that I'm fighting the good fight. It means that every day I get up and try again to be the best woman that I know how to be. And I try even though I don't feel like it, even though I'm tired, and even though I often feel like I'm in it alone. That badge may be the most important one I have. It reminds me of all I have yet to do and all the life I have yet to live.

So, fellow widows and widowers, step right up. Design your own badge. Wear it proudly. You deserve it and so many more!

Monday, January 17, 2011

The difference of one second

Really, who ever thinks about seconds? They pass us by in the blink of an eye. Oftentimes, nothing monumental happens in one second. We remember days, major events, but the seconds usually just slip by. But a second really does make a difference.

Everything can change in one second. I found that out when I lost Ron. I thought my life had ended. And, in a sense, it had. At least the life I knew had ended. The woman that I was walked right out the door when she heard the words, "We tried for 30 minutes and we couldn't get him back." She ran like hell when my daughter, two and a half at the time, reached out for me crying, "NO!" as I fell screaming to the floor. She vowed never to return as I took charge and made the first real decision I'd made in years: asking the Chaplain to leave.

That woman, the 30-year-old mother and wife, blew right past us all in the following days and months. She was nowhere to be found. There was no trace of the strong woman who had soothed so many tears and held hands that made her world complete. Now, there was one less hand to hold.

So she left. And the new me evaluated what her options were. None of them looked too promising. And, of course, I made a lot of incorrect decisions. But now I look at how much I've grown and changed, and I can't help but think that this version of me is happier and healthier. I can make a decision if I have to. I can even stand up for myself some of the time. (I'm still working on that one!) But I've come to the conclusion that this new woman was given two feet for a reason.

So now, I'm going to use those two feet. I'm going to walk right up to that older version of me and tell her exactly what I think. "You did a fine job with all the seconds you had available, but now it's my turn."

Monday, December 6, 2010

Just feeling good

I wish I had something inspiring to tell you. I wish I even had some big, splashy news. But all I really have is that right now, just where I'm at in my life, I'm pretty happy.

I'm working at a great job where I feel needed and appreciated. I have a wonderful boyfriend who wants to spend the rest of his life with me. I get to wake up every morning and face a new set of challenges that I feel (mostly) equipped to handle. I get to come home every night secure in the fact that while I may not have landed where I thought I would be at this point in my life, I certainly am right where I need to be.

I am spending my time being a mother to a wonderful and feisty daughter. She tries my patience, makes me smile, and gives me love like no other. I work during the day to please my boss, but find that I'm really pleasing myself at the same time. At night I get to spend time with this wonderful man (boyfriend 2.0) who continues to try and convince me that all is right in the world because we're together. My family is behind me. My friends are there every step of the way. I keep meeting new people who open my world even further.

Truly my life is blossoming. How did I manage to get here? :)

Monday, September 6, 2010

Finding a piece of myself

"There is only one path to today."
I stumbled across this sentiment today. I've done some searching and can't find anyone to whom I can attribute it. There is only one path that would have gotten me where I am today. Somedays I lament that fact, and other days I celebrate it.

I think about my journey a lot. There are so many people along the way who have touched me in ways I can't explain. Some of them are still in my life and some are gone. And recently I've found a new someone that has been touching my life.

A while back, when paychecks from my job started bouncing, I began looking for work elsewhere. I figured that if they couldn't even make payroll it was only a matter of time before the whole place went under. For once in my life I got out in time.

I started working at a local restaurant/ice cream shop. Not exactly the most glamorous of positions, but you do what you have to to pay the bills. After working there for about a week, someone walked through the door that would change my life forever.

I didn't notice him at the time. I was seeing someone else. We talked just like any regular co-workers would. As a matter of fact, we had some pretty deep conversations. He told me about his divorce. I told him about my husband dying. He told me he was sure he would never find another woman that would be willing to deal with him already having 4 children. I told him that if she was the right woman it wouldn't be a problem.

Over the next couple of months we continued talking and sharing. For an outsider looking in, I suppose that the way we opened up to each other must have seemed very strange. But something about him made me know that I could share anything with him and be completely safe.

After finding out that the boyfriend I thought I would marry was not the one, this man and I began to date. We've been seeing each other for about 3 months and I can't say I've ever been happier. The hubby was a phenomenal man. I can't help but believe that he had a hand in bringing this man into my life. He always told me that he would want me to find someone else. True to my nature, I had to pick a few losers before settling on one that truly knows me.

Boyfriend 2.0 knows that there is room for both him and my husband in my heart. I can hardly believe it myself. He gives me the freedom to experience my pain and grief and still makes me laugh and smile on a regular basis. September is a hard month for me and he has promised to be there every step of the way. Knowing that I have him in my corner makes my heart feel like there's a reason to keep loving.

I could extol the virtues of this man for pages. Really, all you need to know is that he loves me and doesn't want to change me. He believes me to be the strongest person he's ever met. If he keeps treating me the way he does, I might just come to believe that, too.

To this wonderful man, the other side of myself, thank you for being a part of my path to today.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Not what I signed up for

Yesterday morning was NOT my finest hour.  On Monday my daycare provider was sick, so munchkin girl spent the day traipsing about the nearest large shopping city with my parents.  I was/am totally fine with this.  However, she did not get a nap.  Given the same set of circumstances with me around, the same lack of nap would have occurred.  That night she woke up from a "bad dream".  I should have recognized the portent of things to come. 

The following morning, when she finally woke up, nearly 2 hours later than her usual time, she had ZERO interest in getting ready and leaving the house.  She repeatedly asked if we could stay home and snuggle in the chair.  I can promise you that there's nothing I would have liked better. But, someone has to make the donuts.

At this point I began a process that I had never before had to undertake. I physically hauled my child from the bathroom into the living room to get her dressed.  I held her down, or at least parts of her, while I removed her Pull Up, put on her underwear and shorts, took off her pajama top, put on her tank top, and foolishly attempted to get her shoes on.  A kick from a 4-year-old can be very painful.

Then I began the process of getting her in the car.  This involved an action that I can only describe as similar to trying to keep a cat in the bathtub. Eventually I did manage to get her in the car with her screaming bloody murder all the way. She cried and screamed most of the way to daycare. And the screaming began again when we pulled into the driveway.

I got to try to fend off blows while unbuckling her and getting her out of the car. Then I had to pick her up and carry her into the house.

Once I was on my way to work I lost it. I began sobbing and grabbed my phone. While I know it's not a wise idea to even talk on your cell phone while driving, let alone while visually impaired from crying, I needed reinforcements.  I called my parents and begged them to tell me I'd done the right thing. I felt absolutely horrible because the one thing she wanted was within my power to provide. However, this was an opportunity to teach her about obligations.

I assume this was all brought on by lack of sleep and her trying to adjust to me working a 40 hour week after nearly a year of working 11-5.  The poor thing has had a difficult time trying to adjust. 

My parents said all the right things, including, "Pull the car over before you crash." But I swear to you, the one thing I could not do that day was take my mind off the feeling that all she wanted was some time with me and I didn't give it to her.  I want it to be very clear; SINGLE PARENTING IS NOT WHAT I SIGNED UP FOR. Say all you want that I'm strong. That you couldn't do what I do. That you would give up. But the truth of it is, I feel like I did. I feel like I gave up on reasoning with her just so that I could move on with my day. I put her needs aside to deal with my own.  I feel like a bad mother.  I feel like they'll be calling me to take away my mommy card. Part of me really does know that I'm a good mother, but this emotional outburst absolutely broke my heart.  It won't be too long and she won't want to snuggle any more.  I know I did the right thing in teaching her a lesson that she'll someday understand. But how do I tell my heart that?

Thursday, June 3, 2010

I've still got what I need

I try not to use this blog as a sounding board for all my rants. I try to keep things positive and remember that some people reading this are not intimately acquainted with my life. I've always wanted this blog to be a learning experience for me and for others. However, tonight I find myself with much pent up anger and hostility that I have nowhere else to put.

Without giving away too much identifying information, I celebrated a big event at work today. When I went to tell someone who I expected to be supportive, all I got was sarcasm. Granted, this person lives on a steady diet of sarcasm and we've been more or less on the outs for a few days. But still, the response I got shocked me. In the end, I finally told this person to just forget it. I don't know if I'll hear from them again tonight or not. And frankly, I don't know if I care.

The moral of the story is that just because something is important to me does not mean that it's equally important to all the people in my life. Truly, I don't need it to be. But what I do need is support, joy, and congratulations. So, a big "Thank You" to all of you who have, and will continue to be supportive. In the end, I find that I only need myself and my congratulations to celebrate. After all, I only had to prove to myself that I could do it.