Monday, July 25, 2016

Tiny Humans and Baby Sisters

The thing no one tells you about when you’re a single parent that dates another single parent, is that when things don’t work out, you don’t get visitation. And that is tough. I spent over a year of my life loving that little girl, helping to raise that little girl, and just like that she is out of my life.

No, she is out of our lives.

You see, I’m a grown up. With lots of experience in areas of the heart. That experience has brought lots of love and laughter, but also lots of heartache. And with each heartache, comes a void. I’ve learned as time has passed to take that void and put it in a little box. And as a coping mechanism, that little box doesn’t get opened very often. So while I still love and miss that little girl, I don’t think about it too much. It is too painful.

But my babies, the tiny humans, they aren’t grown ups. They’ve also experience a lot of love and laughter, and also a lot of heartache. But unlike me, they aren’t calloused. They wear their heartache right on their sleeve for the world to see. And like me, they lost two people during that breakup. Amelia lost the only father figure she’s ever known, and she lost her little sister.

Because you see in this relationship we weren’t just playing. We were building a family and a future together. Olivia was her little sister. We both told my kids how important it was to teach Olivia the right things because they were her big brother and big sister. And they loved her as such. And silly me, I thought both kids were ok when Olivia was gone from their lives. I thought because I put my feelings in a box, and because they didn’t sit down and cry each night, that they were ok.

But you see, they aren’t. Their lives got ripped apart. Our family went from 5 to 3 in a single day. They never even got to say goodbye to her. And unlike when a marriage ends, my kids don’t get visitation. They don’t get to see the man they considered to be a father. They don’t get to see their little sister. And at least for Amelia, it is breaking her heart.

For the past 6 weeks Amelia has asked me daily if I was ever going to get married again. My response is typically that I don’t know. She then follows up with the question of whether or not I’m going to have another baby. To which I typically and emphatically answer No. (As an amusing aside to this story, I once accidentally told her we could get a puppy instead, which she has totally run with. She now tells everyone she’s getting a puppy even though I meant to tell her we could get a fish. She’s basically laid down the ultimatum that we either get a baby sister or a puppy. She’s holding my uterus hostage!!!) And then one day I thought to ask her if she wanted me to have another baby. She said “yes, because I want to be a big sister again”. It finally dawned on me that she doesn’t really want a new baby sister. She wants her old baby sister back. These questions are her trying to understand this loss in her life. Trying to understand why they aren’t coming back. Trying to understand how a man that told her he loved her and tucked her in at night, just disappeared one day, and took her baby sister with him. 

And y’all, it’s tough to explain to your kids why relationships don’t work out. But it is even tougher to explain to them that they lost their family and probably won’t ever see them again. There is a lot of judgement going on in my head. I’m judging me because I put my kids in that situation. I told them to love her because family is forever. I judge him because now he isn’t the father he promised them he would be. But through all of that judgement, the hurt and loss that my kids feel is still there. There is no resolution because our relationship ended for a reason. But how do you tell your kids that you chose to end their relationships, too?

For now I’m dealing with their pain through trips to Space Camp and the beach, through sno cones and cheese dip, through lots of love and laughter of our own. We go on grand adventures on the weekends because we miss her less when we aren’t at home. I realize that is not an entirely healthy attitude about loss, but for now it is the only way I know how to help them. Because I can assure you that Amelia is not getting another little sister. Or a puppy. I can barely commit to a fish… I swear it’s like animals come to our house to die, and more loss is really just not in the cards right now. Did I tell you that their cat ran away the same weekend that Mike left?

Yes, life is hard some days. This is hard. And I pray daily for God to take my anger and guilt away about this. But so far peace hasn’t come. And so tonight I write. And tomorrow will be a new day. 

Thursday, May 12, 2016

Princess of my own castle

Breakups are hard. Period. I remember when my first boyfriend and I broke up in junior high. It seemed like the world would end. I remember crying to my mom in the gym during a basketball game and thinking that my world would never be right again. That I would never “love” anyone like I had “loved” him.

Well, 20 years later and breakups are still hard. I’m still crying to my mom, only this time it is from the driveway of my house and not a high school gym. And although it is like a gut punch, I know my world will not end. But man going through a breakup as an adult comes with so many added complications.

Like the stuff. We were, how should I say it… Shacking up…? So now there comes the dividing of the things. What is his, what is mine, what was ours and who gets it now? Now, 3 days post break up was my worst day so far. I was fine one minute and a sobbing mess on the floor the next, and it would come out of nowhere. But during one of my ok moments, I felt like that would be a good time to start the packing of the things. Man was I wrong. Yet another heaping, sobbing mess. But little by little the things are being sorted and packed.

Post breakup Day 4 was a good day. I didn’t cry once. There is always an underlying sadness, but no tears. Fast forward to post breakup Day 5 and complication number 2. The pictures. Since we had integrated our lives together in a day where not too many days go by without photos being taken, there is a ton of photographic evidence lying around. I went through my phone, and for some reason I just couldn’t erase all of the pictures. Some were easy. Delete. Gone. Like the life we had planned. But others are still there. I just can’t do it. They serve as a grim reminder of the things we did together when we were in love. And don’t get me started on the pictures in the house. Taking his picture off my office desk was almost my undoing. And it’s more than just pictures. It’s dividing a life. Things you wouldn’t think about in a million years. Like the DVR. Last night I erased all of his shows. Because last night it wasn’t hard. But I don’t want to happen upon one in 6 months when I’m having a randomly sad day and have a meltdown. So part of breaking up is going into detective mode and figuring out all the places your lives are intertwined and unraveling those strings. Ugh. Dagger to the heart. These small, inconsequential actions somehow make it all too real.

Now don’t get me wrong. This breakup was my idea. For a million reasons that I won’t name here. But it doesn’t make it any easier. I know this next statement will make zero sense to all of you people out there who live with your head leading the way, and not your heart, but sometimes you can’t help who you love. Turns out, my sixteen year old self was wrong. I would come to love someone even deeper than I had loved my first boyfriend. And this guy was the one who took the prize. We’ve spent almost 3 years of our lives together, and for those of you tracking, that’s almost 1/10th of my life. That’s insane. But for all the reasons my head told me that this guy wasn’t right for me, there were a hundred reasons that my heart told me to keep him. I have never loved anyone as truly and deeply as I loved this man, but sometimes love is just not enough. Even though we never stood up in front of God and our friends and took vows, we promised a life to each other. A life together. A life raising our children side by side. A life filled with all the reasons that I choose to wake up and love him every day. And now I don’t get to do that anymore.

Which brings in complication number 3. The kids. I told them on post breakup Day 2. Mainly because I was afraid they would see me randomly break down into tears and think I was insane. (Amusingly enough that happened Post Break Up Day 1 at a dance competition and now I’m pretty sure all of the other moms think I’m insane.) They of course, took it better than I did. Go figure. But then this morning Amelia asked if Olivia would always be her little sister? How do you answer that? Avoidance. That’s how I dealt with it this morning. But I know it will come up again, so I’m busy trying to figure out how to explain to my five year old that not only has she lost the only father figure she’s ever known, but she’s also lost her little sister. Now don’t get me totally wrong, Amelia is super stoked to have her entire room back to herself, but she is grieving, too.

Each day seems to be better, for the most part. But I think I’ve realized that a part of me is clinging to the hope that this isn’t the end. Which is totally unhealthy. Clinging to a life that only happens if someone else changes is a hopeless dream. But sometimes the reality that there will not be another ballgame, another kiss, another night be the fire is just too much to handle. So I think for now I’m clinging to this hope that it really isn’t the end.

And that is due to complication #4. As a teenager you have nothing but free time. No kids, no real responsibilities. Which leaves plenty of time for staying in bed and sobbing uncontrollably for hours at a time. Not so much as an adult. I am forcing myself to feel this only in small doses, because I can’t afford to fall apart. I have these pesky things called bills, which require payment, which requires a job, which does not allow me to stay in bed sobbing uncontrollably for days on end. And then the nerve of the kids. Expecting me to get up to take them to school and dance class and soccer…. All joking aside, being an adult is hard enough to begin with. It’s even harder when you’re sad and all you want to do is curl up and have yourself a good cry. When you’re sixteen, your friends have nothing but free time to call and console you. Not so much as an adult… Not that my friends haven’t been there for me. Because they have. But we’re squeezing in therapy time between toddlers falling off slides and work meetings. And then there are the innocent ones that casually ask “Are you doing ok?” Apparently “No” is not an acceptable answer to that question. I get lots of uncomfortable pauses and people cautiously taking steps backwards. But that is the truth. For now, I’m not ok, but I will be and some days that has to be enough.

So for this day I’ll have to give up the dreams of a life I planned. But as I have so often discovered, life often does not go according to plan. I have faith, and for now that is enough for me. Well, that and the fact that my happily ever after might just be me being the Princess of my own castle, doing things on my own, while raising my tiny minion army of 2….