Decency and favors. Love and Life Lessons. (Plus a realization)

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(I’ve refrained from writing about this on my public blog for two weeks now. Mostly keeping my comments to my private Facebook. However, I’ve neglected writing for some time now, and writing is how I heal. Sometimes journaling is not enough. So here we go. I’m taking back the things I care about, and my blog is one of them)

So I was informed today that I am not a decent person. Apparently because I got myself couches and moved my exes couch outside and asked him to pick it up.

I was informed that he was doing me a favor by letting me “keep the couch so you had a place to sit”.

Right. Because not putting it on the curb, along with the motorcycle and all the other shit in the shed isn’t decent. Because watching the dog that’s not mine until he finds a place to live isn’t decent. Because I didn’t do him a favor by standing by him for 4 years even though it put my family at risk. I didn’t do any favors supporting him financially and emotionally, through the toughest time in his life. Because it’s obviously my fault that he walked out, and can’t fathom that I’m not going to rearrange my plans so it’s convenient for him.

He did ME a favor by cheating, moving out and leaving us with next to nothing, just in time for Christmas? Taking all of not only his stuff, but stuff we bought together and things of mine? Just to put them in storage? He’s the decent person because he let me borrow a couch?

Right.

You know what? He did do me a favor. He taught me what love is, and what it isn’t. He taught me that I should never be dependant on someone else. He taught me that real men don’t cheat on someone they promised to love forever. He taught me that real men don’t break a child’s heart, then take even the toothpaste out of the cabinet on their way out. He taught me that I can do this all on my own, that I deserve better than all of that.

He DID indeed help me out, but it wasn’t letting me borrow his couch. It was teaching me that there are people will help us if we need it. People who love us and stepped in to give us a happy holiday. It was teaching me what commitment and devotion is. It was teaching me that someone who loves me won’t sleep around behind my back, putting my health at risk. It was teaching me what I want, how much more I deserve, and that there are good people in the world, in my world.. He taught me that he didn’t deserve to be part of it.

I hope on his quest for happiness, he finds what he’s looking for. I do. I just hope he stops hurting everyone who loves him along the way.

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Stress, Happiness, Family, Home and Work: Rambling Does a Soul Good.

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This last year has been turbulent.  There were so many ups and downs (it seemed like more downs than anything to be honest) and to be completely honest, I was burning out and pretty damn near miserable.  The worst part is?  I didn’t realize how miserable I was, despite it tearing apart my life.

When you’re not happy, it truly does impact all aspects of your life.  A big part of my issue was work itself, and after I started burning out, I no longer wanted to be a part of it.  I felt helpless, taken advantage of, and angry.  Little did I know, I was taking all of that home with me.  My relationship with my boyfriend suffered, I was working 60+ hours a week, and was so crabby during what little free time I had, I threw most of it on him.  My daughter felt the brunt of it as well, I snapped on her for simple things more times than I’d like to admit.  Of course, working so many hours, made me feel like I missed out on her life (which I did, and I regret wholeheartedly), which made me resentful, which made me angry… and the cycle continued.

The stress from work, and my by that point, unhappy home life impacted my health.  In 2013, I had no hospitalizations.  In 2014 through now?  What, 3?  4?  With several ER trips in between?  It’s been ridiculous.  Crohns isn’t caused by stress, but it most definitely is impacted by it.  So, on top of everything at work, and at home… add in hospital trips.  When you add in hospitals, you have to remember to subtract pay and add stress at work from missing work.  Take all of that and re-route it back into the unhappy job, which leads back into the unhappy home.  Do you see where I’m going with this?

Towards the end of the year, I realized that work was my main issue, and was getting the impression that I was bringing it home and affecting my family.  I made a goal to make it through Christmas.  I had talked about it with Ryan, and once Christmas was past, I would make a decision and decide whether I would leave or stay.

Oddly enough the timing of that final conversation coincided with a demotion.  For whatever reason, my management decided instead of making changes I had been asking for, that it would be better to put me back into the customer service pool and bring back an old coworker as the new supervisor.  I jumped on it.  Sure, I was a bit angry, not at the demotion itself, but at the lack of help I had received, the lack of support I was given and the lack of training (which is improving markedly since then, might I add) for my position.  However, I knew I wasn’t right for the position yet, and at that point, I didn’t want it anymore.

Once I was firmly back in my customer service position, I vowed to leave work at work and to bring the happiness from home there.  I had never been good at separating work and home, never.  Not even when I first started working at 15 years old.  This time I was determined.  That was the first step.  Within a few weeks I was getting comments from family, friends and coworkers that I seemed markedly happier.  Little fights with the boyfriend seemed to happen less and less.  I started to sleep better at night and I realized that it was because once 5pm came along, I *refused* to be aggravated about work, I *refused* to be angry.  If I did manage to bring home those feelings, I did something immediately to put it out of my mind.

Since then, as the weeks pass, I realize what a mess I was.  I wasn’t sleeping well, I wasn’t eating well, and I was perpetually grumpy.  My Crohns Disease started to flare again around Christmas, and I have been back in the hospital twice since then (one was just an overnight, the other almost a week).  The downtime while being sick really pushed home the changes I needed to make.  I have been doing great leaving work at work, and enjoying my home life.  My stress levels were markedly lower once I started focusing on how much I enjoyed doing silly little activities with my daughter, once I started working on my hobbies again.  I started to tweak my diet and cut out some of the fattier foods I eat and try to cut down on coffee.  I quit smoking again (wish me luck) even… that’s the newest, I haven’t had a cigarette since Saturday.

Needless to say, I’ve noticed a huge difference in myself.  I’m enjoying my life a lot more now, and I finally feel like I have my priorities straight.  It took a long time for me to realize that my family and my health come first, no matter what.  No more going to work sick, no more sending my daughter to school with a cold, no more rushing back after hospital stays.  No more bringing home work and no more stressing about it after the day is done.  The benefit also crosses back into the office.  I feel happier heading into work (or at least the dread of a new day isn’t there anymore) and I take my lunch breaks and work on something I’d like to.  When you feel better, you tend to have a higher quality of work.  I  also make it a point to enjoy cooking (like I used to) and my family is benefiting from home cooked meals again.  I’ve even done my best to bring as much music and art as possible back into my home, which is one thing I noticed fell out of my life this last year.

So while I still have quite a bit going on with my health (new doctor, new medications, and new symptoms – a blog post for another time), I’m enjoying myself, my home and my job a lot more these days.  I wish I would have listened to my friends and family earlier, maybe I would’ve caught on to how miserable I really was.  However, you can’t change the past, you can only create the future, and more importantly, make sure you enjoy the present moment.  Here’s to hoping for a better year, a healthier life, and more happiness through out it all.

Stand Up and Step Up

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Being a single parent is hard work.  I would know.  Divorced and all of that hoopla, it happens, and unfortunately is pretty common.  I was not the best mom at first, I had to fight with my new found freedom and learn how to do everything on my own again while dealing with active Crohns Disease.

It took me a bit, a year of fucking up to be exact, but I did it.  I stay out of the bars (except for  a rare and precious night out… which I usually stay sober for.  Whodathunk?), I save my money, and I work on spending time with my family and providing a wonderful life for my daughter.  It’s hard work, it really is.  But to know that I am completely 100% self-sustained and my daughter doesn’t want for anything (beyond “ICE CREAM MAN MOOOOM”) makes me proud.  I’ve done it all on my own, and now my home is even more stable and loving with Ryan in it.  You all know how messed up my thinking had got there for a while.  I’ll admit it, purely to prove that you can get through it.  Especially if you have kids.  Because of that though, I’m pretty tough on other single moms.

I’m sure you know the stereotype.  Mom with a scraggly looking kid, standing in line at the welfare office, nails done, hair dyed, brand spanking new iPhone5 in her hand.  I *hate* that stereotype.  Actually, hate is a pretty mild way of putting it.  I do everything I can to not be that mom.  I busted my ass to get on my own two feet and give my daughter a better life.  I just want to scream when I see it, or even more so when people are surprised that a young mom like me isn’t on welfare.

I have nothing against welfare, I truly don’t.  I used SNAP benefits for 6 months after I threw my ex-husband out.  Later on I lost a job and used SNAP benefits for a little over a month.  Welfare is there as a step up, to give you that hand that you need when you’re super down on your luck.  Without those benefits, food was too expensive to pay for and my utilities fell behind.  It’s useful, it’s there for you to use.

However, it’s not there for you to live on.

When I met Ry, him and his ex-wife had officially parted ways (after being separated for months) a couple months before.  It seems really amicable, everyone got along.  I was on “Team-Single-Mom”, I felt for her, even though her ex still was very active in her child’s life… I could understand.  As time passed, real attitudes and personalities started coming out and I distanced myself.  I didn’t want to be that woman who picked fights with an ex-wife.  It’s annoying, and I’m an ex-wife too, I could still understand… couldn’t I?

I tried really hard to keep my mouth shut but after awhile I started piping up.  During her days, her son stayed at his grandmothers house.  She had claimed she was working long hours at the bar, but after a little investigating (the whole knowing everyone thing comes in handy) we found out she spent equal time drinking.  I still tried to remind myself, freedom is delicious after a failed marriage.  I still liked going to the bar… I tried to forget the fact that I came home every night and never left before the kiddo was fast asleep and tucked in.

One day, her son told me, “I miss my mom, I haven’t seen her in more than a week.” The judgement was made.  It was final.  I was not a fan.  Yes, I went out, a lot even.  I got that, I understood that more than anyone else could… but I still spent every moment I possibly could with my daughter.  Hell, I *STILL* get upset when Nood goes to school/summer camp.  Anyone who could leave their kid “because it was easier” at their parents for days on end was not cool in my book.

I gave up on beating that horse.  It’s been two years and he still sees his grandmother more than his mom.  I finally just resigned myself to this thought… when her son grows up, he’ll find out the truth eventually.  Then the only person she’ll have to face is the shame from her own kid.  She just has to grow up.

So then the “gimme-gimmes” started.  I’ve always offered to buy clothes or his baseball shit, but we started getting calls for random stuff.  The latest was six-flags passes.  I finally had to put my foot down.  Absolutely-fucking-not.

We don’t splurge like that in my household, I am not splurging like that outside of it.  Maybe when the kids get older, but right now it’s not a necessity, and it’s not in my budget.  She then started harping on how we should pay for school registration… after we paid for the school supplies (she was supposed to pay registration).  She says $180 is too much for her.  Considering I pay $180 a week for daycare/summer camp (It was $190 for Kindergarten), I don’t have too much sympathy, I still have to pay Noodle’s school registration for next year next week.

So I snapped.  I told her that since she is on food stamps (3 plus years now), gets medical, free childcare and free utilities she will be fine.  I am more than willing to help her if she ever gets her own utilities and falls behind not to mention anything the kiddo needs.  Needs, not wants.  I have no problem splurging for wants, but money isn’t growing on a tree here.  I can’t pay for things like passes, when I have bills to pay.

I told her that if she can present me with a literal bill or invoice (for things like baseball, school, supplies, etc) I will pay them, but I will not be giving her cold-hard-cash when she hasn’t gotten a job that can support her son yet.  As long as she’s on welfare, I will be paying anything the kid needs direct.  I am not a walking wallet, and I am *not* going to support a welfare mom.

I am sick and tired of it to be blunt.  I managed to pull myself up and fix my life, so can she.  Her son depends on it.  So unfortunately I’m sure I’ll be getting a lot of calls or texts whining for money, but the difference is, I’m good at saying no.  I’m good at budgeting and I am well aware of what living within your means is.

I signed up for this to step up for the kids.  I signed up to love my family, not to give my hard earned paycheck for a night at the bar.  I hope this is a wake up call for her.  She needs to be a better mom, I know she can, she just has to step up and do it.  It’s going to be a long few months, but hopefully refusing to enable welfare-life gives her the reality-check she desperately needs.

An Open Letter To The Ex-Wives

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[Explanation:  This is not a hack on all single mothers or all ex-wives.  This is for those women who divorce a man for whatever reason but then refuse to let go.  This is for the women who get mad when things start going right for the man that *they* walked out on. This is for those mothers who spend too much money on frivolous shit and then complain when they don’t have money for their half of their child’s necessities.  Take offense if you must but if you do, think about why you’re offended. ] [ This is also not a dig on mothers who want their ex-husbands to pay child support or their half of the child’s expenses.  I am also a mother, who unfortunately has an ex-husband who doesn’t pay a dime. ]

 

Hey you,

Yeah you.  I’m sure this will get around to you some how.  Someone you know will see it and link it to you, and that’s okay.  I’m cool with that.  I am also writing this so other ex-wives understand what they have signed up for.

I just wanted to explain something to you.  I am an ex-wife too, I, like you decided to end my marriage and continue on, on my own.  More power to you!  However, there are consequences to your actions, especially when your ex-husband decides to enter a long-term relationship with a girl like me.

I am a single mother.  I do it all with out any child-support or assistance from the state (not that that is wrong, unless you abuse it… ahem).  I have worked my ass off to get to where I am today, which includes a mortgage, car, as well as day to day expenses.  I am proud of the fact that I’ve managed to make it this far, and if my accomplishments bother you, too bad.

So lets get down to what is bothering you then shall we?

From what I guess, you’re kind of salty that the man you divorced is living a stable and happy life.  My mistake, but what you could do is maybe get a “real” job, you know one with benefits and hours that let you actually spend time with your kid.  You know, the kind where you don’t drink *and* pay your taxes?  It’s not his fault that you’re broke and it’s not my fault that you’re in the same place as you were when you left him.

Speaking of money.  I’ve told you numerous times that I’ll give you half of the money that is needed for something.  I offered to pay for half of the school supply package, I have no problem paying half of baseball, I have no problem buying the kid clothes.  Hell, I called you a little over a week ago and asked what clothes he needed, “Just maybe some basketball shorts, he’s fine other than that.”  Apparently you forgot that information since “Well he needs a whole new wardrobe” popped up today.  I am not a fool.  I will not be bailing you out of whatever financial hole you have gotten yourself into.  One of the consequences of getting a divorce is becoming financially independent.  It’s called budgeting.

Also, as you may now know, money does not grow on trees.  I understand that you want to send your child to some camp that magically costs $400 (which by the way, I have internet, you shouldn’t lie).  We unfortunately do not see that as reasonable, so we cannot come up with that large of a sum of money.  We do have bills to pay, remember, we’re *not* on welfare?  As a mother myself, I cannot favor one child over another, and since I cannot afford to send my daughter to camp, I cannot afford to send your kid either.  I’m a huge fan of avoiding favoritism.

Also, I need you to remember that you’re the EX.  You are no longer apart of my boyfriends life.  You left him, so there should be no bitching.  I can’t believe that he has repeatedly had to explain to you that he doesn’t want to hear about your day.  There is no need for daily phone calls unless it is from his child or about his child.  I need you to realize that beyond the fact that you’re still alive and at least attempting to provide your child with a good life, neither of us care.  I’m sorry this seems to bother you so much, but you’d think after 2 years you would’ve gotten used to this.  I’ve tried to stay out of it, but apparently you need to hear it from me as well.  I will call you if I have to, and as you already have learned, I will tell you what’s on my mind, how things work with me, and you will listen… again.

You know, we’ve already had this conversation once.  I figured you’d get it, but apparently not.  I realize that there is an adjustment period to getting over the fact that your ex-husband is happy with out you, but honey it’s been 2 years.  Time to get moving.  You can call me the wicked-step-mother or whatever you may, because frankly it doesn’t bother me.  You just need to realize that I’m not going anywhere, I’m here to stay, and I am most definitely not a fool.  The man you left has changed as well, he’s made himself stronger and refuses to be a doormat again.

So I guess what it comes down to is – Suck it up buttercup, because this is the way it is.

 

Sincerely,

A very aggravated girlfriend.

My Bitter Moment of the Day

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Today I am home with the kiddo, her tummy is upset and she didn’t get a whole lot of sleep. I picked her up from school yesterday, before she even got her jacket on she started complaining of her tummy hurting.  I didn’t think too much of it, “my tummy hurts” has become the most recent excuse to avoid trying something new at dinner.

Halfway home, her banter about how her day went cut off and a meek “I have to go to the bathroom” came out of the backseat.  “Honey, we’re about 2 minutes from home, you’ll have to hold it.”  “Okay” she said and the rest of the car ride was quiet.

We pulled into my driveway, and she opened her door right away.  As soon as she had two feet on the ground she bent over and threw up.  My mouth just dropped.  “See mom, that’s why I had to go to the bathroom.”  Pretty talented if you ask me, when I have to puke, I can’t hold it for 4 blocks.

So we got inside, with me hoping she just ate too much at snack time and she made it 2 minutes before she puked again.  She puked on and off all night and didn’t sleep too well when she did manage to sleep.  I got up with my alarm this morning at 4:45, checked on her and let my boss know that I couldn’t come in today.

I’m sitting on the couch, with a half asleep child laying next to me.  PBSkids on the tv and Noodle barely paying attention unless I go to change the channel at which she bolts awake and tells me “Mom! I’m watching that!”

She’s feeling a bit better this morning, the puking has stopped for the most part and she ate some dry cereal.  She’s just out of it and wants to relax.  Which is fine with me, we’ve been relaxing on the couch together and I’ve been getting some of the laundry done.  We’re going to try something light for lunch in a little bit.  Hopefully that goes well.

This last week has been rough on me for a multitude of reasons.  I haven’t been feeling well to top everything off, which just makes for a cranky me in general.  So each day, on my way to work I think about how everything has turned out.  I’m happy I suppose, but the grass is always greener.

– Regardless of my feelings now or anything else, I am glad I divorced A’s dad.  He wasn’t good for me, and I’m not so sure about for A either.  I am glad I took that step and I will never regret the action to have a safer, happier life.-

Life is stable over here finally.  Both Ryan and I have good jobs with steady paychecks, he likes his job which makes getting him up in the morning that much easier.  Noodle has a school in which she (and I) love, she has wonderful teachers and is thriving.

It just bugs me.  Up until a few months before my divorce, I was a stay at home mom.  In my family (this does not pertain to you, it’s not meant to offend you) it was important to me to be able to stay home with my kid(s).  I could have never predicted that my marriage would turn out the way it would and I’m lucky I’ve been employed since then, but shit.  I finally have a job with normal hours (I’ve been there for 2 years next month) so that makes life a little easier, but I’d still rather be at home and taking care of my kid.  I never thought I’d end up in the work force full-time, I always assumed that until A was out of the house, I’d be a part-timer so I could focus on her and our home.

So post-divorce I’m a working mother.  It’s just aggravating and I can feel my knuckles go white on that drive into the office.  It’s hard especially when shit at the office has been annoying me.  So I’m driving in to a job that makes me want to lobotomize myself, because of which my daughter goes to school 2 hours early and stays 1 hour late (6:30ish to 4:30ish) (which I realize isn’t as bad as it was before my schedule change but still).  I drive in to a job that I automatically lose 1/3 of my pay to the extra hours at daycare (the ex was ordered to pay half of school/daycare costs and child support, but that hasn’t happened since I was divorced in ’09). I drive into a job that I normally like, where I make decent pay (despite A’s school fees) but because of it, dinner becomes a chore, daycare spends more time with my kid than I do, and weekends are so jammed up with shit from during the week that there isn’t a whole lot of time for fun.

The topic has come up with Ryan that once he gets his raise in a couple months, that I can stay home.  Trust me on this one, there has been numerous times this past week that that seemed like a great idea.  It’s hard to think it’s not.  However, the grass is always greener.  Even if Ryan makes enough for a comfortable living, we’d still lose the money that my job brings in to supplement and save.   I wouldn’t have money for the extra things for the kids and wouldn’t be able to put money in our “going-on-vacation-finally” fund or “get-the-hell-out-of-my-house-kids!” fund.  Two things that I definitely like putting money in.  Plus with this economy, I don’t think I could walk away from a job I (mostly) like that is pretty damned stable, and rely solely on one income again.  You never know what could happen, and I know I’d regret leaving my job if Ryan ever lost his.

 

The grass is always greener, I’ll just keep repeating that.  In the meantime I’m off to get the kid in the bath and find something for lunch.

Coffee In the Mornings

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There is nothing I like better than a quiet morning and a cup of coffee.  It gives me some time to relax and get ready for the day.  Kind of setting the day off on the the right foot.  During the summer it’s even nicer, before work I’ll sit out on the front step and drink my coffee there.  Usually it is dead silent still (I get up for work pretty early) and I can enjoy nature.  Winter puts a damper on that, but on the weekends, I’ll usually get up a bit early and relax on the couch and read the news.

Coffee has always equaled peace to me.  A time to wind down and clear my head.  I think I’ve been drinking coffee since I was 14 years old, and it still tastes the best with a journal and pen laid out in front of me.  I’ve found it hard to write on occasion if I don’t have a hot cup of coffee, it’s become that much of a routine in my life (Well gee, after 12 years I guess that was to be expected).

Sitting down with a cup of coffee has kept my brain in line more times that I’d like to admit.  When I’m upset or stressed out, sometimes the solution is a few quiet moments and some rich coffee.  It gives me that opportunity to breathe and think about what’s going on and become more rational.  One of the perks, that shows up eventually, is that it gives me a chance to reflect (not only on the stupid stuff but..) on the good things in my life.  It gives me a chance to realize that a particular problem is not world-ending, but in fact I am lucky and that I need to be more grateful.

I’ve been journaling since I learned how to write.  There was something alluring about writing down your world in a book, and as I grew older, I began to like the stereotypical coffee, coffee house and journal time.  Now that I have a child, I have my own desk and “quiet spot” to write in.  Journaling (or blogging, or writing stupid shit on a napkin at 4 am because that’s the only thing you have to write on) I believe has made me a better person, it’s something I think that if people tried a few times, they would eventually pick up.  I bought Noodle her first journal not too long ago.  She now makes a big production out of sitting in bed with me in the evenings so we can write together.  Her journaling is a lot more simple, but it gives her something to do and a way to explain things (with horrible kid spelling) ie: Today we went to the forest preserve, that made me happy.  It’s also something that her and I BOTH do, not totally “together” but at the same time with each other.  She knows that when she gets older, and I’m ancient, or when she asks as an adult, she’ll get all of my journals (I have more than 40 at this point)… and that will be a great way for her and whatever grandchildren I’ve accumulated at that point to learn about me.  Hopefully it’s a trait she develops as well as she gets older.

So for now, I’m off to make some more coffee. Let the weekend begin.

 

Valentine’s Day and Loving People

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Welp, another year has passed and its here again. Valentine’s Day. You know, the day where social media is overwhelmed with either singletons whining about how its a meaningless hallmark holiday or pictures of roses, chocolate or proclamations of love.

I used to be in the anti-valentine’s day club. You know, crazy freshly divorced lady. My biggest argument was that you shouldn’t need a single day to make you want to do things for significant other but should all the time.

I still believe that, but I guess you could say that the thought process is expanding.  Now, at 21 + 5 and on my 2nd Valentine’s Day with not-my-ex-husband, I’m adding to my old ideas.

Yes, you should be wonderful to your significant other every day.  You should. You shouldn’t need a reason to show your love. However, if you’re in a relationship where your partner treats you like you’re the got-damned Queen (or King) why is it so wrong to use a hallmark holiday to go one more step? Why not use it as an excuse to do something nice?

Its not. Simple as that. I think that by now we all know it’s a hallmark holiday but all of us know that it also sucks to be single on a holiday that seems to be aimed solely at couples. People who indulge in Valentine’s Day dont have horrible relationships where their partner is horrible to them on the other 364 days of the year. They are in a relationship where thier partner was thoughtful enough to indulge in a silly holiday. 

More importantly. Its not about just couples, at least not to me. Yes, the boyfriend and I celebrated and I got a sappy card and present. However I also spoiled my daughter with candy and a stuffed animal. We made Valentine’s Day cards for her grandparents and I took time to appreciate those who I love, those who love me.

So I guess I’m done being a hater. Vday is okay in my book, maybe its because Im in a long-term relationship.  Maybe its because I’m getting older. But maybe instead of focusing on who we dont have in our lives, we should focus on who we do.

Happy Valentine’s Day.