Modern Love

“Is it possible for it to be the right decision and still be a mistake?”

I have been watching and enjoying the Amazon Prime series called “Modern Love” though I am a bit disappointed that some of it is fictionalized. I feel bad for the people whose stories were changed. I always wonder what exact part of their story wasn’t good enough or interesting enough or didn’t translate to thirty minutes of television.

I suppose I am living my own version of “Modern Love”. I may have mentioned a time or two how much I dislike where I am living. Have you ever wondered why I don’t move? Well, let me tell you…

The father (K) of my son (E) and I are married and we live in the same house, but we are not a couple anymore. We function as a family but we have separate bedrooms and do not do any couple activities. If not for our son there is no doubt we would have divorced long ago. But I want to do what is in my son’s best interest and I won’t lie, it is really hard to know what that is.

I feel like I should write a little bit of background but I don’t want to turn this into a rant about all the things wrong with K. First, K is not abusive or an alcoholic or hiding a gambling problem. He has a good job. He doesn’t like drama, to the extent that he acts like nothing is ever wrong. He simply ignores anything he doesn’t want to deal with. Nothing is his fault or his responsibility. He has never apologized for anything in the 14 years I have known him.

On the parenting side he has two grown children he hasn’t seen in more than ten years. One avoids him and the other is an alcoholic with mental health issues that he avoids. He also has three grandchildren he has never met. (Neither of his kids have ever married.) Enough said.

And yet I still feel like my son deserves to have both his parents in his life full time. In theory we could do that several different ways but I think this is the best situation, at least for now. (I won’t go into specifics but lets just say K is a very lazy, or maybe indifferent is more accurate, parent and I wouldn’t be comfortable leaving E with him for more than a day or two.) I know the situation isn’t ideal and worry about the messages E is getting about marriage. But we don’t fight and seldom even argue. At worst sometimes days go by without much interaction between us.

So yes, I worry all the time that I am making the right decision. If we split up would there be a big custody battle? Maybe. Maybe not, as my husband avoids confrontation at all costs. Arizona is big on paternal rights though and would I be able to take E out of state? How would my son feel if his father couldn’t be bothered to fight for him? It is a lose-lose situation for sure.

So I have decided the best option is for me to come out the loser, at least until E graduates from high school. We have had a few conversations about our somewhat unconventional family situation and as E gets older we will talk more. I don’t want him thinking this is what marriage is supposed to be like and while I wish I could be living a good example for him that just can’t happen right now.

I love my son more than anything and at the end of the day his father being around on a full-time basis seems to be the most important thing. So that is what I am going with. Modern Love.

“Is it possible for it to be the right decision and still be a mistake?” *

This is the thought I live with.

* I heard this line on the Australian television show “Heart Guy” and thought, yup, this is what I keep thinking.

Flash Fiction: Interlude

Seriously, I am not really thinking about Christmas yet, other than with the shock of seeing items creep into stores. But I am thinking about my son turning 12 next month. How did that happen? So that is where I went with this week’s prompt from Carrot Ranch.

“St. Nicholas”

I studied my son and wondered if he still believed in Santa.  He was almost twelve now.  I had the story ready.  How Saint Nicholas was a real person who did good works and when he died people wanted to continue his kind deeds.  How everyone gets a chance to be Santa for others.

Was my son ready to be Santa? Was I ready?  Maybe this was an interlude where he didn’t quite believe but had a year to grow into the idea of Saint Nicholas.  Or maybe this interlude was for me to adjust to him growing up.

Old-Fashioned Family Outings

For the first week after my surgery I was housebound. Between the weather (triple digit heat and humidity), not being able to drive and how tired I felt, not leaving the house wasn’t a big deal. By the end of the week though I was bored and antsy and decided it was time to make a plan.

For my hospital stay I had picked up a couple of magazines. One was “Art Journaling” mostly because it had lots of pictures to look at. And one of the articles was about art made after a trip to the Postal History Museum here in Tucson! What! She had bought fish of the world stamps. Located near the University of Arizona I thought this would make a nice, short outing.

So off we went on Friday to view an 1800’s post office and learn all about stamps. It was actually rather interesting and I learned a lot about their education program and got some information to pass on to my son’s school. They also sold stamps and had big bags of stamps from specific countries or envelopes of stamps based on themes. You could buy just clock stamps or bicycles etc. I bought an envelope of mixed stamps of the world.

The page I created for my sketchbook project.

After the post office we went to lunch at Lindy’s, a decent burger place nearby. And then we went commissary shopping as I wasn’t supposed to carry heavy bags yet and was trying to limit my twisting and bending.

On Saturday I let the family recover from the first outing and then sprang Sunday’s outing on them: a picnic up at Mt. Lemmon. While the weather was still triple digits at the base of the mountain, up at 8000′ it was a pleasant 80°. We don’t go up the mountain much during the summer because it is crazy crowded, especially on weekends, but we decided to chance it anyway.

We lucked out and found a table and parking at Inspiration Rock. The weather was luscious and we enjoyed a simple picnic lunch and played two games of ‘Sorry’. I lost both but didn’t care, I was so happy to be outside and not melting!

Hoo-doo’s!

Then we decided to see how crowded the town of Summerhaven was. Again we lucked out and found a parking spot first try. We walked down to the Cookie Cabin to get plate sized cookies. The line was out the door and after 10 minutes of not really moving we decided our luck had run out and moseyed over to the Rainbow Gift shop for a browse and then to the General Store for fudge.

We sat on a bench outside the store eating the fudge and watching all the jockeying for parking spaces and admiring the flowers before starting our descent for home.

Hoo-doo’s from above!

At home we made popcorn and watched “Harriet the Spy” (because she was a 6th grader and that is what grade my son is starting). I declared the weekend a success despite not getting a cookie the size of my head.

On Monday when I woke up to rainy looking clouds I realized it was perfect baking weather. (Okay, maybe not perfect because it was still hot but at least it looked like baking weather.) I made my own cookie the size of my head. Bigger even! A sugar cookie with mini chocolate chips and orange (in color and flavor) frosting. And sprinkles. The perfect ending.

The ‘plate’ is actually the lid to my Tupperware cupcake container, so 12″ in diameter! I was thinking this would be cool to do at Christmas.

Good Things Thursday

Just a quick post today, we have a few errands to run and then the triple digit heat will send us into the pool!

I am learning to let go of expectations (especially in regards to my son) and so many things are making me happy this week! I am, for a change, living in the moment.

I am enjoying the return of “The Good Witch” in addition to watching “Poirot” and the last few episodes of “A Place to Call Home” (but why is Olivia letting Matthew push her around?).

My son and I have just about finished re-doing his room. We painted a wall, ordered cool outlet covers and light switch plates and put up a spacious wall of cubbies. We took everything out and cleaned the carpet. His new bed is delivered and the under storage is plentiful and works great. Now we just have to clear out the closet.

A few weeks ago I got a call about the Census Bureau job but the training date was only 4 days after my surgery so I didn’t think I could go. They said they would put my name back in the pool for the second wave of hiring and I got a call this week, this time with a training date in August so I said yes!

Thanksgiving in June. I figure if you can have Christmas in July that would translate to Thanksgiving in June. I made turkey tenderloins, cranberry sauce (I always freeze a bag or two of cranberries) and a sweet potato pie that turned out quite tasty. (I tried a new recipe that had maple syrup in it and whipped egg whites to make it light.)

To help add a feeling of cool to the post!

I am a bit of a weather geek and one of my sorrows is how boring the weather tends to be here. Aside from the occasional large monsoon thunderstorm (mostly in August) there isn’t much that happens here weatherwise. But this year we had snow in February and an actual spring!

Typically we are swimming by mid-May on a regular basis and June is hot, dry, cloudless and still. This year we had vast temperature swings, wind and bits of rain, enough with all the pollen to turn our pool green. My husband spent a week trying to clear it up and we finally gave up and called in the pros. Three days later the pool was clear, just in time for the triple digit heat.

We had a thunderstorm one night, very odd this time of year, but exhilarating. And we seem to get clouds and overcast skies for part of each day, very atypical. The forecast is for a late monsoon season this year. I don’t believe it.

My local library branch has bookcases in the front of the library that display new books and recently returned books, staff picks and then some sort of themed display. (Right now it is kid’s books designed to get them to read over the summer.) I love browsing these displays and stumbling on a happy surprise. Last trip I found “The Clockmaker’s Daughter” by Kate Morton. I love books that show different periods in time and at the end find out how everyone connects! Looks like that is Morton’s theme and I am looking forward to reading more of her works.

Realizing that the only way to keep my son off the computer is to get him out of the house in the afternoons. I have several adventures planned for the next two weeks, most involving lunch and a visit to various places. Today we are going to Target to get a few items for his room, the library and finally Trader Joe’s for those tiny ice cream cones.

Happy Almost Summer!

And don’t forget Flag Day tomorrow!

May Madness: Mothering

My post is late today because I spent the whole day being an involved parent. I am exhausted. Not even through the first full week of summer vacation and I am ready to chuck the computer out the door.

Yesterday my son spent 6 hours, NON-STOP on the computer. (I was testing for any glimpse of sensible self-regulating.) He didn’t even get a drink of water. And then I had to badger him to get off. So no computer time today. And so I have been busy keeping him busy. Some errands, lunch out and I whooped him in skee ball! Tonight he will be making grilled cheeses for dinner for him and his father.

I am currently reading “How to be a Happier Parent” by KJ Dell’Antonia and I am getting a lot out of it. I am realizing my son is a much more capable person than I give him credit for. It is time for me to adjust my expectations and give myself the badly needed break I need. I need to let go. I need to accept good enough when he does an assigned task.

I have been gradually making changes and setting expectations since school got out. We have set up our shared calendar and reminder list. We have set up a few tasks for him. He is going to meditate every morning. (Insight App has meditations just for kids!) We have spent a few minutes each day trying to reduce his room to disaster level DefCon 3.

He is going to do his own laundry every Monday from now on. (I thought it best to pick a day to help him remember and so I know not to plan on doing laundry that day. I let him pick the day. Since we discussed this on Tuesday he picked Monday to put it off as long as possible. Little does he realize he probably has three full loads to do already.)

We discussed his summer math work and he set himself up with a schedule and we designated one end of the dining room table as the math spot. We put the packet of work, his math notebook full of notes, a sharpened pencil and a big pink eraser there. No excuses or delays hunting for items!

Tomorrow I am dropping ‘chore of the month’ on him. Actually ‘life skill of the month’. For 30 days I will have to listen to him seriously complain about doing the dishes every night. I will have to remind him probably every single day to do the chore. I will have to stand firm with myself and not swoop in to do things right (ie my way). But by golly at the end of the 30 days he will have it down! And then he can move on to something new and create a whole new list of complaints.

Til tomorrow…

May Madness: Minimalism

Recently I did some deep cleaning around the house. You know, actually taking all the books off the shelves and getting all the dust, cleaning the carpets, purging and rearranging just a little in my office.

I have read a lot of articles and books about minimalism, I have Kon-Mari’d some and there are aspects of minimalism that I like. I believe every object should have a home to reside in when not in use. I put things away when I am done with them. I try to get rid of things I don’t love or find to be useful. But I do like having stuff. I have no interest in owning only x number of clothes or getting rid of certain books because I have already read them. I still love them and want to keep them.

My shelves and closets are full but organized. Not crammed with clutter. (Okay maybe a little clutter but I am making an effort.)

In the midst of this bout of cleaning I have realized I wish spouse and small child were minimalists though. To put it bluntly they are both slobs. If they see a flat surface they think it should be filled with stuff. They are both allergic to throwing things away.

I try and compromise. I leave their own rooms alone and in the shared spaces I try to be fair and open minded. There are a few spots where I have allowed stuff to pile up. (Mostly because I have been too busy battling my hormones to engage in another battle.) But here I am trying to clean. I have discovered I don’t mind dusting and doing the floors, the actual cleaning part. But I feel ill used looking at the piles of stuff on the desks. I am tempted to simply throw it all in a garbage bag and be done with it.

Am I the only one like this? What do tidy people do when forced to co-exist with untidy people? Do they spend all their time cleaning? The thing is, while I like a clean house I don’t actually like to clean all that much. It is enough work to put my own stuff away. And don’t tell me to ignore their stuff. Not possible, though I wish it was.

Til tomorrow…

May Madness: Meditation

Last August (I think, I don’t really keep track) I started meditating. In the beginning I used the Insight App all the time. It helped me remember to do it and establish the habit. I set up the timer, sometimes changing the background sounds. Sometimes I follow a guided meditation and have some favorites bookmarked. I also do walking meditation on the treadmill which I really like and should do more often. (Note to self, remember this!)

Now I still use the app often but I don’t worry if I skip a day or meditate ‘au natural’. No not naked, I meant by just sitting quietly and focusing on my breathing.

The big question is, does it do anything for me? I think it does. While I am actually doing the meditation it just feels like hard work to quiet my mind over and over again. Some days are more successful than others. At the very least it gives me a pause before jumping into the to-do list for the day.

But over time I have noticed I seem to be able to control that initial negative reaction to certain situations better. I am able to take a breath, think, and then respond. Very helpful during the absence of estrogen. Crazy helpful with parenting.

Today is the first day of summer vacation. Unfortunately I woke up only ten minutes later than normal. But then I decided this might be a good thing. I did my yoga stretches and then sat and meditated in the quiet morning. It was lovely to be able to just sit and not worry about the clock. I listened to the birds outside the window (what were they talking about?). I breathed in kindness towards myself and breathed out peace towards the world. Hopefully I will embrace the day gracefully, no matter what the universe sends my way!

Til tomorrow…

May Madness: Middle School

Today is the last day of elementary school for my son. For the most part I am looking forward to summer and the break in routine. No alarms, no clock watching just scads of unstructured time. No doubt a week or two from now I will be looking forward to the start of school again. 🙃

And I am not in the least bit worried about my son starting middle school next year. Moving him to a private school was the best decision and I have no regrets, despite the cost!

If my son was still attending public school I would be worried big time about next year. When did 6th grade get moved to middle school? Somehow I missed this big change. His assigned middle school is over crowded and they do some sort of split schedule. Middle school years are difficult for everyone and I would be very uneasy sending him into an environment with over- sized 13 and 14 year olds that may or may not be monitored very well.

Too many horror stories of bullying circulate. The fear of school shootings can’t be ignored. My son is an introvert. He is quiet and non-aggressive. Yelling at him is always a mistake. He gets upset and shuts down. I can totally see him being a target for older/bigger kids.

But with his current school the class sizes are small. The teachers and administrators KNOW the kids. In middle school the kids are well supervised. The teachers are present and visible during changing classes and before and after school.

Honestly, I have worried about the school environment since he started first grade. I had never even considered a private school until I got a look at the public schools here in Arizona. I grew up in Baltimore and went to public schools. My standards aren’t that high.

When he started at the private school this school year I had a good feeling. I got to know the teachers and felt comfortable leaving my child in their care. I have watched him grow and thrive in this school environment.

Today I feel a great relief knowing that I don’t have to worry about him going back to school in August. And that relief will help us to enjoy the summer.

Til tomorrow…

Summer Bucket List

It is here, the last full week of school. We will have two hormonally challenged individuals spending the entire summer together. I can hardly bear the thought of it.

Keeping small child entertained all summer is no picnic. Left on his own he would spend all his time in front of a screen. Even though he is eleven it is not enough to simply tell him to turn the computer/tv off and go find something else to do. Believe me, I have tried that. Mostly he just lounges around complaining that he is bored, ignoring any suggestions I make.

I want him to do things he enjoys besides video games and cartoons. I want him to explore his creative side and get some exercise. I want him to have a good summer.

All year I have been jotting down ideas. The hard part is most of these things will have to be done together which could be good or bad. Kind of depends on how hormonally challenged we are feeling on any given day. The hope is we each get an hour or so for ourselves in the morning and a second hour in the afternoon.

The big goals are not to let one or two bad days derail the whole idea, be flexible, and once in awhile shake things up and go have an unplanned adventure. (Every summer I plan all these get out of the house ideas and every summer the heat or monsoons press us back indoors. So adventures this summer will be spontaneous because if we think about it we won’t go!)

I have decided the first day of summer vacation we will go to lunch at our favorite ice cream place (they serve food too) and discuss plans. And then we can head over to the new Hobby Lobby (conveniently located in the same plaza) and maybe find a project or two.

Here are some ideas of hopefully fun things to do:

  • Swimming. We have a pool and once I get him in the pool he loves it. Last year he made a lot of excuses to not go in which was really annoying. This year he won’t have a choice. For Easter I bought a bunch of pool toys to help tempt him into the water.
  • Book Club. We do make it to the library on a regular basis and we can easily find YA books we both enjoy. I thought it would be fun to read a book at the same time and then discuss it. Maybe have a themed lunch that day to go along with the book.
  • Cooking. My son has shown an interest in cooking and baking. Every once in awhile I’ll let him plan a meal/dessert, shop for it, and prepare it. A great way to practice so many skills.
  • Christmas. I am going to get a craft kit or two and we can have craft time for a few weeks. He can make Christmas presents for relatives. So much easier to do it now than when he is juggling school and sports.
  • Take an on-line class together. The local community college participates in ed2go. ‘Drawing for Absolute Beginners’ seems perfect for us.
  • Movie nights. It is getting harder to find movies we all enjoy (and haven’t already seen), but not impossible. Popcorn helps.
  • Skee ball. Skee ball is hands down our favorite arcade game and we got a small version for Christmas. Playing tournaments with innovative prizes will be fun for all.
  • Board games. We have a ton of games and go in spurts playing them. I have a secret goal of playing each one at least once!
  • Sketchbooks. I like the idea of doing something creative together, but not too structured. The Sketchbook Project seems like a good idea and it is pretty cool to think of our work going on a tour and then being kept in an art library. I ordered a book for each of us and splurged on the digital addition. There was a 20% off code when I ordered which made the price a little easier. This should pair well with our on-line drawing class. Hopefully after the class he will be more confident in his skills and it will be cool to have before and after sketches for both of us.

This year our vacation is near the middle of the summer break which is nice. We are going to the North Rim of the Grand Canyon which we are very excited about. This will help divide the summer into two halves, the first being what I think of as swim season. Very hot and dry and then the second half which may be the rainy season. (Monsoons are pretty unpredictable.) But it will be good to have inside plans because rain or heat are both unpleasant to be out in.

Also, right after vacation I am having my hysterectomy. They do it robotically so it is not the big deal it used to be. But I will still have one to two weeks with limited lifting, bending and twisting. And no swimming for four to six weeks, a killer!

I am hoping small child will be helpful those first few recovery days. I suspect I am kidding myself. A more realistic prediction is that while Mom is knocked out on pain killers he will be grabbing all the computer time he can!

I can make all the plans in the world but really, I have no idea how the summer is going to go. Fond memories? Or a nightmare best forgotten? I am assuming no matter what we will both survive. No one has ever actually died from hormonal teenagers or menopausal moms, right? RIGHT?

May Madness: Mother’s Day

Happy Mother’s Day!

I got a wonderful surprise gift from Mother Nature today, rain! Last night we had a lovely thunder storm and this morning it is cool and cloudy and we’ve had more rain fall. Pretty rare this time of year and I love it! Thank you Mother Nature.

Every year what I truly want for Mother’s Day is to not have to think about dinner. I am responsible for dinner 364 days a year. This doesn’t necessarily mean I cook dinner every night, yet somehow I am responsible for the fact of dinner.

It is 100% up to me to plan dinner be it cooking, leftovers, eating out or throwing a frozen pizza in the oven. If we go out 90% of the time I have to pick the restaurant.

I want one night where I don’t have to think about dinner at all except to eat it. I want to be told we are going to such and such place at whatever time. Period. No thinking involved on my part.

It won’t happen of course. And yes I have articulated this desire loudly in years past. Last year there was no plan made by child or spouse and we ended up eating leftovers or sandwiches or something. One year they wanted to go out and I told them to pick a place and they couldn’t manage that and they dithered until it was too late to go out.

Now I will admit they usually make breakfast and clean it up. I get the impression that they think that is enough and maybe they are right. Maybe I am just being greedy. A whole day without meal responsibility? Blasphemy!

This year I am picking up the no dinner plan vibe as well (maybe I am wrong) so I have Plan B ready. The Cubs game is on at 4:00p and I’ll make popcorn and drink the pink fizzy lemonade I got at Trader Joe’s and pretend I am at Wrigley Field.

Small child will make himself mac and cheese and spouse will sulk that there is no dinner (he did all that work on breakfast!) and ostentatiously eat a bowl of cereal. And thus another Mother’s Day will end.

Til tomorrow…