single mom

It just FEELS like forever.

Kealoha and I had a nice Christmas. Santa came a week early for the kiddos, and then on Christmas Eve we had my family over for turducken, roasted redskin potatoes, crazy good broccoli with pine nuts, homemade rolls, and enough dips and desserts to give you a heart attack. Thankfully, no one actually had a heart attack.  

I could go on and on about the day, but it’s mostly boring warm-and-fuzzy stuff.

 

It also reminded me of Christmas two years ago. Just two years ago, I was flat on my back on the couch with a broken foot in a bright green cast and suspended on a stack of pillows. I couldn’t have the kids over for Christmas, because I couldn’t take care of them (having just broken my foot the week before). I was lonely, nearly broke, and literally broken. You’ve heard this story before. The point is…how even in the darkest times, the times when things have felt the most permanent, change still happens. That Christmas day, I’d never felt so alone. I felt like I’d be like that forever. I’d be poor, unloved, unwanted, and disabled. It felt like forever, like I’d finally reached my future.

 

And then my niece came and took me to see Sherlock Holmes (the first one). It was a gift, really, to know that someone loved and cared about me. My mom came over to help me with food and get around. After Christmas, I could take care of my kids again. I learned how to navigate the ice on crutches and still managed to get to work and take the kids to school and grocery shop. I earned more money. I spent a lot of time with friends and on my own. I dated.

 

I didn’t settle. I tried to once or twice, but I knew that wouldn’t work. I wanted a future that was good and wholesome, one in which I would be loved and supported. I tried hard to believe it was possible.

 

I’m saying all of this because I know some of you who read my blog are in dark places too. Maybe you’re lonely. Maybe there’s little money. Maybe you feel like you’re in your own kind of Forever, and your spirit is broken.

 

It may feel like Forever, but it’s not. Remember, broken bones do heal. It just takes time.

 

Hang in there.  Hang on.

 

If there’s anything that’s proof that change can happen and can happen for the better, look at my story. There isn’t anything extraordinary about me. I’m a regular woman, maybe a bit quirky. I’m not famous. I live a quiet life, but I believed enough in myself to hang on. Someday I believed just enough to hang on to the next day…but that was enough. And even when I didn’t believe, things still changed. Gradually. For the better.

 

Worlds can change in two years. Lives can be transformed. I didn’t wait for the change to happen though, I prepared myself to be ready for it. I got stronger. I worked hard.

 

I’m not saying that ‘anything is possible if you just believe’. You don’t have to believe. Change will happen anyway. Just open yourself to the possibility that the change that is waiting for you is a GOOD one. That’s the possibility I tried to believe in (even when I didn’t).

 

Today Kealoha and I are taking a day trip to Ann Arbor to go to Zingerman’s Deli and Trader Joe’s. We’ll go together and be dorky and talk about food and kids. It’ll be fun. Safe. Comfortable. And about a million miles from where I was two years ago.

 

On that note, then, my wish for you:

May you have a New Year with unexpected surprises and delight and joy in the small things, and may change come to you and make you stronger and happier.

 

Phew.

 

That was a heavy blog.

 

Next time I’ll talk about my favorite kind of cheese, or maybe on why shows like American Idol and XFactor rarely create real stars. You know, deep stuff like that.

Grab the tissue. I'm all nostalgic because of holidays.

We are inching ever closer to my favorite holiday of the year. Yes. Thanksgiving. Of course, that’s my favorite holiday. It’s the only holiday that’s entirely focused on FOOD. And, yeah, giving thanks. I mean, I love Christmas and all that, and Fourth of July, and Easter can have a pretty good brunch and all…but Thanksgiving? Come on. It’s brilliant.

Holidays always make me a little nostalgic too. I start to look back on my life and then I look forward and then sideways and then I get dizzy and then I get all emotional and start crying at holiday commercials and I’m all “Oh, he gave her a puppy!” It’s kind of pathetic. This year is no different. I already feel the tear ducts kicking in.

This year, though, all I have to do is look back one year ago and it’s enough to make my throat get all choked up and those tears don’t even threaten anymore, they just start flowing. Not with sadness, though. Ohhhh, no. It’s joy. Simple, uncomplicated joy.

A year ago, I was still newly separated from my husband and questioning how on earth I thought I could be a single mom. What had possessed me to break up our marriage and our family? I was at a little apartment (that cost a lot) in East Grand Rapids. I was a few months in to my contract with teaching at Kendall, and I was facing the first holiday without having my kids with me all the time. And, let’s be honest here, I was really lonely.

Last Thanksgiving my friends Brendan and George invited my mom and me and the kids over to their place. It was so nice to be included in a family. One of the things that was so hard when I separated was that fracturing of the family. My ex (a year ago) had met and was committed to the woman who is now his wife, so their holiday season was a first for him in building a new kind of family. And I couldn’t compete with that. I was barely hanging on with working full time, writing, trying to get published, and trying to keep my emotions together.

We survived Thanksgiving. It wasn’t as painful as I thought and it helped sharing it with friends. And then the rest of the holiday happened. Last December, I broke my foot, on the day we got our Christmas tree and I was so proud for hauling it in myself. Sometimes I still cry over the moment when I was on the ground and my two kids were trying to help me get up, and I had the realization that I physically couldn’t move, and I couldn’t take care of them, and I tried not to cry in front of them. That Christmas I asked my ex to take the kids, because I knew with the cast and all, that I couldn’t drive them around to look at lights. I couldn’t get presents under the tree. I couldn’t carry them to their rooms if they fell asleep. My mom was there to help me, but it was a holiday season that I spent feeling entirely alone, literally broken, and barely able to keep my head above water financially.

What a difference a year makes.

This year, I am in my new house, my dream house, with a beautiful backyard and the kids have their own rooms and we have two spirited/demonic cats. My sister and brother in law and her kids are joining us for Thanksgiving. My mom will be here, as will Kealoha, who every day I love a little bit more. He makes me feel…cherished. Cheesy, maybe, but it’s true. And it’s funny to me that I’ve known him for so long, but only now have I really been able to see him. And…I’ve got my books out there and I’m finally getting some acknowledgement for all the hard work through some interviews coming up in local papers. To top it off, Kendall is looking at possibly renewing my contract for another year.

Last year I didn’t feel like I could offer my kids anything. I questioned all my choices…and worse than feeling like a bad mom, I felt like a bad person. That’s all changed. I have a confidence I never suspected was even possible. And somehow, through sheer determination and maybe because I had no other choice, I have built a future for me and my kids. It’s more than a future, really. It’s a family. My house, both literal and metaphorical, is filled with friends and family and laughter and good food…and…yes…hope.

See? See what holidays do to me? They make me go crazy emotional. What can I say? I have a lot to be grateful for. I don’t know. This year, well, it’s enough to make a slightly dramatic, overemotional, 37-year-old writer/woman/mom believe that there really is a little bit of magic left in the world.

And if there’s magic left in the world, maybe, just maybe Bigfoot exists too, and that makes me really happy.

Balancing Wonder Woman, 2 Kids, and Biff While in a Bikini

The day started with an omen. I put on my new bright blue Wonder Woman t-shirt. Simone, my 4-year-old daughter told me it was too young for me and I shouldn’t buy it but I bought it anyway. When she saw me wearing it, she was mad because she wanted one too, and who can blame her? I’m obsessed with Wonder Woman.