Archive for ‘March, 2014’

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Pouty face.

NOT duck face.

Pouty face.

Today is a day where I toss up the white flag.

I’m trying to figure out if I’m just being weak (or a wuss, whichever you prefer), or if I’m really, really trying to take on too much. And after all of the in-depth soul searching, I’m finding that it’s some of the first but more of the later.

The past few weeks have been filled with hectic, emotional things for me. Selling my home. Purchasing a new one. Problems with my ex not providing his proof of child support checks unless I paid him $150 for the fee of splitting of our 401K (long story–can you say blackmail?) and issues with our house-sell funds being wired on the right day and having to fight with the builder to let us occupy the house early and wondering where we’d sleep until the funding went through. Dealing with the builder and their employee (ex’s wife) taking my ex through MY house. Moving alone, with the help of my brother and 2 neighbors because Brandon had to work Friday and Saturday (those are his busiest days at work). And now trying to settle into our home, being buried in boxes and clutter, and realizing that we don’t have enough money in the bank to put in the yard AND finish the basement–which means cramming 6-10 people into a 1500 square foot space (that’s not even mentioning the stress of delivering that news to my four kids who are sharing rooms and packed in like sardines at the moment).

I’ve officially hit the wall. (not literally, although I’ve considered it.)

Trying to balance life is a difficult thing for everyone. I’ve oftentimes found myself scouring for advice, quiet time, lists etc to help me feel like I’ve gained some amount of control over my life the past few years. But ya know what I’ve learned? I’ll never ever have it under control.

I work 40+ hours a week at my job and raise my 4 children daily. They go to their dads a day or two a week, but for the most part it’s me doing all of the homework, running around, shopping, haircuts, mentoring etc. Brandon is there when he can be, but his job has him away for a good majority of the week. Add on top of all of this Brandon’s 4 children and spring sports (softball, soccer, which has us going almost every night of the week and all day on Saturdays), and I’m almost curled up in the fetal position in the corner.

I’m buying dinners on the go, because I run in the house at 5:00 and grab 1-2 kids to run out the door for a choir concert, practice, training or game. I HATE spending money on food out. My brain plays with the idea of if “I didn’t work full-time, I wouldn’t be so busy” and I could cook more at home which would save us money. I would also be home at 3:00 to help with homework, laundry, and organize the house before the dinner hour and we’d be settled into a routine by the time Brandon gets home from work.

Playing with that idea is a common thing for moms who work.

Is it true that we can’t have it all?

If I had my way, I wouldn’t work full-time. That was never in our “family plan” when I was married to my ex. We made a conscious decision for him to go to college (twice) and get his degrees so he could support our family and we chose to have 4 kids knowing that I’d be home to raise our family. Well, that dream went to shit and now I work full-time PLUS raise the family. It hardly seems doable some days. I worked full time with 3 kids under 3 to put him back through college to cement that plan in place, and ya know what? NOTHING is for sure.

Now I work, and I work hard. If I’m kicking ass at work, I feel like I’m dropping the ball at home. And if I’m in my mom-groove and in the mom zone, I feel like work suffers and I’m unavailable. There’s just no winning. Do I ever think I could be a stay-at-home-mom and not work at all? Probably not. I enjoy working hard and creating wonderful things and changing lives. but all of these things should be pointed directly at my family and less-so at a job that is just a job.

I’m not a “career woman”! Hell, I’m not even a corporate ladder climber; not since I became a mother. These kids are my life. And after a long, heart-wrenching talk with my 15 year old son the other night, I realize that the divorce and life has taken me away from the core of my life. It’s time for that to change.

My husband gets frustrated I’m so busy and grumpy about running around like a chicken with my head cut off. And I’m frustrated because my husband works so much and I’m taking on a lot of this on my own. And our kids are frustrated they don’t see either of us much. Sounds like the tail is waggin’ the dog, doesn’t it?!

Was it a mistake to purchase a new home and increase our payment? Who knows. But we needed the space. Were Brandon and I crazy to try and blend 2 jobs, 3 ex’s, 8 kids and our baggage into one life? Again, who knows. But we love each other and think we can make all of this work.

I’m finding that my frustrations have led to me losing pieces of myself again, because I feel like I have to concentrate on so many balls not dropping. And ya know what? I can’t do that any more. I simply can’t. Most women would have probably had a break-down by now. You think I’m being over-dramatic, but I’m completely serious. I simply say the phrase, “We have 8 kids!” and everyone looks like I have 3 heads and runs in the opposite direction. If I said, “yeah, I work full time, my husband works 50-60 hours a week, and we have 8 kids who are all active in competitive sports blah blah…” I think their heads would implode on site.

On days like today I need to pat myself on the back for all I do. I do a lot, damn it! And I keep this family running! And in the same regard, I need to allow myself the room to say, “I can’t” or “no” more often than I do. I can’t please everyone. Say it with me, “I can’t please everyone!” If I don’t learn to do this, I’m not going to be worth a damn to myself, my husband OR our 8 kids.

Today is a day I wanna give up. But guess what…today will be over, soon.

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Friday night…finally! And, it was a Friday night when the kids were going to be at their dad’s house. ALL of them. That meant getting things done–or not. I could choose. That freedom is priceless when you have multiple kids! It’s usually “Can you take me to so-and-so’s?” or “Can you pick us up from the theater?” and I don’t mind doing that one bit. But when your to-do list is longer than Katy Perry’s false eyelashes, you look forward to non-interrupted weekends!

Brandon had gotten home from work around 10:00 pm that night, and we had just settled in on the couch when I got a text from my ex about my son. He explained that the two of them got in an argument about him not answering his phone while he was at his girlfriend’s house, so when he came home he took the phone and our son got angry and left the house. His text said,

“He told me he was going to your house. If he shows up at your house please bring him back to my house. I’m not allowing him to escape his grounding by escaping to your house.”

Wow.

My house is over 7 miles away from my ex’s home. Was he really gonna let our son walk to my house?

I quickly replied and told him, “GO FIND OUR SON!”

It wasn’t 10 minutes later that I received a call from a number I didn’t recognize. It my son who asked me to come get him. He was at a house around a mile away from his dad’s. I got the address and Brandon and I headed out to pick him up.

I drove straight to the address and found my son waiting for me on the street. When I asked him what was wrong, he replied with, “Dad’s a jerk.” and continued to tell me the story of their argument.

The easy way out would have been for me to pick him up and bring him home, but I know that I’ve got to teach my kids to stand up for themselves for one, and I’ve also got to teach them that I can’t come in and rescue them all of the time.

I’m sure my son was scared. A few years ago his dad got angry at his older brother and it became such a bad situation that my oldest son did walk to my house. But his being grounded and losing his phone was no reason for him to get angry and leave. I know he hasn’t been thrilled with going there lately, but again, this wasn’t how to handle it.

Brandon and I drove him to his dad’s house where we sat in the driveway and talked. His dad and step-mom pulled in the drive a few minutes later. I told my ex that there are issues that needed to be discussed and  our son wanted to talk to us, alone. It’s funny. I looked at my ex in that moment and felt such confidence in myself and pity for him. He had no idea about the issues my son was going through like I did, because they don’t really talk. I felt like I had to be mediator for the two of them, a role I was used to because during our marriage I was the peacekeeper between him and our kids.

My ex invited me in, and Brandon offered to pick up my daughter as a favor to my ex so he could be involved with the conversation (seriously, Brandon is amazing!). I really didn’t want to go in his house. That’s just weird. And remember, he may want to see where I live and what my life is like, but I don’t care to see his things. But I did want to support my son so I followed them in to the kitchen and sat at the table.

It was the first time I’d been in his home. It seemed “too clean” and lifeless. It may be hard for some of you to understand such a thing, but after sharing a home with this man for over 17 years this new house felt a lot like my old house with him. “Perfect”, model-home-ish with not much personality. It’s sad, really. I can see why the kids don’t feel very comfortable there.

We talked through the issues, and I backed up my ex as a co-parent. “If you break curfew, you’re going to be punished.” I told my son. But I also shared with my ex the words my son couldn’t tell him. That he didn’t like being there. That he felt picked on by his brother and step brother. I’m not sure if the words got through or not. But I said each one with the strength of a million men.

We settled on my son coming home for the night with me to get some quiet time and he would return to his dad’s the next day.

I consider the night to be a co-parent victory. I hope my ex listened, and I hope my son learned that his father isn’t as unapproachable as he thinks–at least when you give him time to settle down.

As for the rest of the weekend, it turned out to be super!

BandL

Brandon and I spent a wonderful Saturday night at the ever-beautiful Grand America in downtown Salt Lake City. The generous peeps at my work gave us a gift certificate for a stay in one of their executive suites and $100 towards a couple massage as a wedding gift (never-mind that we were married 9 months ago and we finally got to scheduling the getaway). The massage was *A*mazing! And so was the shower with 18-heads (yes, you heard right)! It had varying temperatures of water and led lighting…let’s just say if I had one at my new house, you’d never see me! (And now Brandon wants to retro-fit our shower so he can enjoy that experience every day!)

Hotel

The room was gorgeous, and the view (shown above) from the balcony was perfection as well. My only complaint is that I wish we could have spent more time there.

I’m glad I took my son back to his dad’s to work through things, and I’m glad I kinda “ran the show.” It helped me put my mind at ease knowing the fighting between my ex and my son subsided, and Brandon and I were able to relax and enjoy the weekend together.

This co-parenting with a narcissist who always wants to get his way is no walk-in-the park. Some of our parenting run-ins haven’t ended up so cordial…I’m actually surprised all went well and my ex seemed receptive…for now.

One small step for man, one giant leap for mankind.

 

 

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IvoryCatalog_MainlineWeb_Layout 1

Some of you may remember this post where I wrote about my ex husband driving past my new home just after we put an offer in with the builder his wife works for. He and his wife drove my children past our soon-to-be home and saw nothing wrong with the boundary crossing.

Well, just when I thought he couldn’t get any ballsier (is that a word?!), the kids told me that 4 days prior to our moving in, he told the kids that he and his wife went inside my home and looked around. “We wanted to see where you were gonna put your beds!” Are you freaking kidding me? My 13 year older replied with a, “Well, that’s not stalking or anything!” I’m sure the comment didn’t ding his conscience one bit.

The sense of entitlement that this man has is appalling. And the lack of judgement his wife has is equally as sad. If I worked at a home builder and Brandon came to me and said, “Let’s go inside my ex’s new house!” I’d look at him and tell him to 1) Grow the hell up! 2) Get over the damn ex! and 3) Go eff himself, because I didn’t want to lose my job! She’s clearly fallen for his games and tactics and is in the “do anything he asks to please him” phase of the relationship. After being married to an abusive man in her first marriage, you’d think she would have better judgement this second time around!

I quickly snapped off an email to the territory manager, calling attention to the lack of professionalism and confidentiality of client information, to which he never replied. So last week, I sent the email to the sales manager asking if they support this lack of ethics and poor business practices. I received a reply back, and was immediately mad.

“I have read your attached e-mail and I apologize for the situation that has occurred.  I have personally spoken with {insert territory manager’s name} in regards to this situation and he is apologetic for what has happened.  As a standard practice all home are available to be seen prior to closing but I do think more discretion could have certainly happened in your case.  Once again I apologize for {insert builder’s name} and hope that you enjoy living in {insert development}—it is a wonderful community.”

After my initial bout of anger, I had to ask myself and analyze why I was mad. Why did this bother me so badly (other than the fact that I kicked him out of my house almost 4 years ago and he has no business following me around and invading my privacy)? You know what? I’m angry, because I didn’t feel heard, and once again he got away with it. He got away with being a bully and intruding on my life. He’s been a bully all his life, and he’s always gotten away with it. No one held him accountable. No one stepped up and told him it was wrong. And now, his wife is just as guilty at infringing on my privacy and he now goes about his life feeling pleasure because he walked through my home. This is the 2nd time he’s gone through a home of mine when I wasn’t there, and the second time he’s gotten away with it. It’s absurd, the gall he has.

He now knows the floor plan of my home and he knows I know. Well, now all of you can know my floor plan, too. His power comes from knowing something personal about me…or does it?! If everyone out there knows it, it really isn’t any power on his part now, is it?! What do I care if he’s seen inside my home? He’s the sad, jealous person trying to “measure up” my life in comparison to his. I assume he does this because he’s got to lay his head down at night and think about (or pat himself on the back about) the fact that he has a bigger house. He has a bigger garage. He has more bedrooms than I do, or whatever the crap else he snuggles up to at night. And honestly, I’ve never cared about what he has.

My home is beautiful. It’s a place where Brandon and I and our kids will make lots of memories filled with happiness and real love. I’m proud I’ve gotten to where I am post-divorce. I’ve worked hard, Brandon’s worked hard, and we deserve happiness. And we’re well on our way.

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Today it started when I saw a picture I’ve never seen before of my children.

They looked happy, refreshed, and suntanned.

It was a moment in their lives that I wasn’t there for.

A moment that happened without me.

It was the picture that broke my heart.

The biggest casualty of divorce is the breakup of one family. One family with one dad, one mom, and the kids that belong to both of them. The family is a beautiful, almost sacred kind of love and bond that can never be replicated, but it can be mended and grow with other people involved as the future unravels, this I know. I know this because I know my now-husband loves my kids as his own and I love his like they’re mine. But it still will never be the same as one, solid family.

I look in the eyes of my children in the photo and tears stream down my cheeks. I think to myself this is not fair. I wanted to always be there for my kids. I wanted to share their waking moments with them and teach them and show them the beauty in the world whenever we could find time. I never wanted to share my children with their father and his new family (and I’m sure he never wanted to share them with me). It was supposed to be our family. I never wanted to have to kiss them goodbye for weekends or long holidays and wonder what they ate for the day, if they were wearing enough sunscreen or if they were tucked in and told they were loved only like a mother can.

The more I let myself think about the situation, the more my heart hurts. My body, my mind, my eyes hurt. I am crushed.

I don’t miss my ex husband. Not. One. Bit.

But I hate that he does things with his new family that I begged him to do with me and our children.

I hate that he now travels and plans activities with the kids when he always told me, “We don’t have the money.”

I hate that he told his family lies about me.

I hate that they believe him.

I hate that he spun his story to seem that he was mistreated and lonely and now he’s found a wonderful life that he “deserves” after such “misery” with me.

I hate that they think that was the dishonest one in our marriage and I kept our children from them and didn’t want them around. That’s the story he told them.

I hate that he can’t confess that he was so lost in his depression and anger that he didn’t want to go visit any of them. I wish he would admit that he grumbled every holiday and special occasion and said, “I have nothing in common with any of them, so why bother going?”

I miss holiday parties with his family members. I miss our summers in Bear Lake. I miss laughing with my sister-in-law at the funny things our children would do together and the schemes they’d come up with as only cousins can. I miss Christmas bingo and laughing with the uncles and aunts at softball games. That entire life is gone now. And it leaves a hole within me that I don’t think will ever be filled.

Divorce leaves such ugly scars. Some seem quick to heal, but I’m finding that it just takes a little bump to make them bleed again. Especially when you’ve spent half your life with someone and their family. Often I feel like I’m going along fine in my life and the lights are on and I’m growing and over the life that once was mine, but quickly I see something or think of something and it’s like the lights went off quickly and I’m frantically trying to find something sturdy to land on.

Days like today come few and far apart now, but they still happen. I don’t know that they’ll ever truly stop.

I’m learning to get through the discomfort of the feelings that wash over me. I’m learning to embrace them; after all, they are part of me. He is part of me, whether I like it or not, and so is his family. I can’t push the feelings aside and pretend that the hurt is not there. Does it lessen the feelings I have for Brandon? Absolutely not. He is the first person I called when this rush of emotion covered my head like a wave in the sea. He is my soft place to land–a man like I’ve never known before.

I know that I cannot control what others think of me, and I cannot control that my ex can persuade anyone to believe his words (I fell for them for many, many years). What I can control is my happiness and my new family. I can enjoy and love every moment we spend together and continue to do the things I always wanted to do in my first marriage and couldn’t. I can be there for my kids when I’m with them and I can fully engage in them and their lives. I also know that showing them a loving, safe, healthy marriage is what I am meant to do.

And I accept that challenge. Occasional tears and all.

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birth

I froze when I saw this series of images over a year ago. I was completely awe-struck.

This, this, is the marriage I always wanted.

The images struck me so deeply, because they tell a story of love and respect. It’s very clear to us how much love is between the husband and wife. You can feel the love for their unborn baby and for the family they are creating. Within these black-and-white images, I see respect of the husband for his beautiful wife who is enduring pain and exhaustion to bring their precious little one into this world. He is right by her side. Not reading a book or on the phone, but fully engaged in the moment and completely enamored with his wife. Within these frames I also see respect of the wife for her husband as she looks into his eyes. Her look tells him she is in desperate need of his strength and tenderness to help her through the delivery. Without him, she’s unsure if she can go further any longer. These pictures show me what real, vulnerable, giving love is.

This is the relationship I always wanted and never had.

Until now.

*Photo from bumpsmitten.com

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forgranted_web

“I feel like she doesn’t even need me.”

It was a sentence I heard that rang through my ears and boiled the blood inside of me.

My ex husband and I were sitting in the marriage counselor’s office discussing our lives and how busy we’d become. At the time I was holding down a high-level job at a national magazine, running home after work every day and helping 4 kids with homework, running them to sports and activities, and taking care of our house and meals etc. He was working a high-stress job at a national financial institution which was undergoing a buy-out at the time.

On top of it all, we were also dealing with the fact that my then-husband was continually texting and talking to a woman in New York whom (he says) he’d never even met. He was continually on the phone or in the other room, to which I chalked up to him working hard for his job. While this woman DID work in his New York office, they were definitely NOT discussing work.

After my then-spouse told the counselor he felt like I didn’t need him, she looked to me as I was stewing inside, tears rolling down my cheeks, and turned back to him and said, “Can’t you see that this woman is drowning?” We had already gone over all of the stresses in our marriage, and I had explained how tired I was of doing it all and that I had nothing left to give when feeling so betrayed. His response to the counselor, “Well, if she’d just make me a list, I’d help!”

If that isn’t the answer of someone who is un-engaged, I don’t know what is.

I’ve told a few people that I felt like a single mom in my marriage long before I was single. My ex constantly reminded me when I was pregnant with our first child, “You always hear about how when the wife has a kid, she forgets about the husband.” It’s as if he had already determined he didn’t want to “join” the family, but rather, have me take care of him and take care of the baby. But not at the same time.

My ex never woke up with sick or hungry children. He didn’t take them to doctor appointments or attend school maturation programs. His life was “busy” and he “couldn’t get off work” for such trivial things. I always worked during our marriage–part- or full-time–and I always found time to get up with puking kids.

Last night I was at a restaurant with my son and I noticed a father with his 1-year-old daughter at the next table. He was holding her, rocking her, feeding her with a bottle and chatting with her while her mother ordered their dinner. It was a site I would only dream of as a young mother. The kids were “my job” from the get-go along with many other chores in the household. Now, don’t get upset with me, I love being a mother and nurturing my kids. And my then-husband worked hard at his job, so lots of things should have been my job. But when his work day ended, he chose to chill in front of the TV and ignore bath times or reading times unless I prodded him. It’s such a sad opportunity missed. Perhaps he was already on auto-pilot in our marriage so the everyday things didn’t mean much to him–I’ll never know.

Being taken for granted is what taught me to do it all without him. After all, if I didn’t do it, who would? And we didn’t nurture our partnership either–we didn’t go on dates much, because we “didn’t have the money” and we wouldn’t spend money on Valentines Day or Mother’s/Father’s Day, because, “Cards cost more than $5 now!” I began to feel invisible, undesirable, and sad. More and more, I withdrew, and I learned to survive without a marriage. And because of that, I’m sure my withdrawl perpetuated his indifference.

When you take your spouse for granted, you teach them to carry the load all alone. And when that happens, they’re forced to become stronger, in a way, to carry all of the shit. What happens then? Inside they become empty and dark. This will more than likely either lead them to find light somewhere else (like my ex did) or lead them to go through the motions in the dark. I chose the latter.

Post divorce and after the many hours I spent looking within, I realized I don’t want to walk through this life carrying the load alone. I don’t want to be taken for granted. And I don’t want to take anyone for granted, either. I want to share the load equally and celebrate the hard days and the good days. Now after my remarriage to Brandon, I try to remind my man how special he is and how I appreciate all he does for me. And in the same regard, I want to be told or shown I’m special, too. Showing appreciation is such a small thing, and it’s so easy to do, but it’s often a piece that begins to dissolve as time goes by in most relationships.

Remember to go above and beyond. Remember the small rules of using “please” and “thank you”. And last, but definitely not least, remind yourself that you deserve to be appreciated.

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Lori_2011

Last week I went to dinner with a good friend. We had a long discussion about what we “deserved” in our lives and why, sometimes, it’s difficult to call attention to what we deserve or even ask for it from people.

Why is it so difficult? It shouldn’t be, and yet it is.

Too often, especially as women, we tend to put everyone else first on the list and we are a distant second (or third, or fourth). Sometimes we think we’re being selfish, and other times we let poor treatment towards us slide because we excuse it off when another person treats us worse than we’d ever treat them. You know who you are out there–right now you’re saying, “Damn it! That’s SO me!”

The minute you have the epiphany that you are “settling” in some way or another is the time to take action. Do it RIGHT THEN! You can express your needs and what you deserve in a productive way. It may be hard for others to hear at first, especially if you’ve been the doormat for far too long, but it the first step to getting what you deserve.

After telling my ex husband to move out of our home, I felt myself put me first for the first time in almost 20 years. The backseat I took to him and my children was, in my mind, my way of being a good wife and mother. Not true. I was on a quick path to depression and sadness by losing myself.

This photo was taken when I was putting myself first. I made time to go for a walk every day (without guilt of leaving the kids). I gave myself permission to spend money on clothes for me, wear more makeup, and feel sexy again. I was broke, separated, my life was in upheaval, but I was doing what I “deserved” all along in my marriage. So in a strange way, I was happy. Extremely happy.

It was also during that time when I began thinking long and hard about what I deserved in my life. These are some of the things I repeat to myself often.

  • I deserve to be treated with respect. Do not yell at me, do not put me down, and do not call me names.
  • I deserve happiness and laughter every day of my life.
  • I deserve time to take care of myself.
  • I deserve to not feel guilty when I spend money on myself.
  • I deserve to be treated like a queen by the man in my life and showered with loving words, loving touches, and time.
  • I deserve to have my loved ones show appreciation for all of the things I do for them. Even if that means I have to remind them to say thank you sometimes.
  • I deserve a job where I’m appreciated for my abilities and an employer to be somewhat flexible with me for my family, because balance is important to me.

As my friend and I ate our chips and salsa last week, we laughed about how it’s easy to get sucked back down the dark hole of “tolerating” poor treatment or or being second place, because it’s what we know. And even though the subject came up because of her relationship, I realized that I, too, was slipping back into the old me.

So you know what I’ve decided to do? I’m going to have a bi-weekly or monthly check-in with myself. I’m going to have an honest discussion with myself and see if I’m really walking the walk or am I just full of crap. To create new, good habits, I’ll need to review my list and make sure I’m keeping those things first in my mind.

This weekend I looked back at my list and realized that bad habits come back quickly. Am I putting myself first? Nope. I’m becoming frumpy and out of shape, staying in the house more, and I’m tired a lot. Am I giving and giving and am I getting appreciation and respect? Not very much. This is something I talked to the kids about last night.

At the same time, I asked myself if I was GIVING OTHERS what they deserved. Am I trying to say thank you for the small things? Do I recognize when my kids are being kind, or doing well at school and commend them for it? The check-in goes both ways. Are you getting AND giving what you and others deserve? I know that I could improve in both areas. I realized that I’ve asked Brandon what he needs/deserves out of our relationship, but I haven’t asked my kids what they need. I need to. Their happiness and what they deserve is important to!

So I ask you, what do you deserve?

Do you have it?

divorce_web

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