Friday, August 26, 2011

The Last Day of His Penultimate Year

That title is for The Bob. I have never met a person who loves using the word "penultimate" more. Today is the last day for Cooper as a younger preschooler. He has one more year of preschool left, and then on to the show. The big time. But for one more year he is still a preschooler.

Every year he has been alive has been a year of change, some quite obvious, like walking, talking, losing the first tooth (that second one is hanging on for all it's worth). This year the changes have been more subtle for the most part. Every morning I go in to get him up for the day it seems like the legs are a little longer, the face a little less round and pinchable. There is a maturity to his face that surprises me, and makes my chest tighten a little because it is one more step toward being grown up, independent, the constant movement away from us, his parents. The people who have been needed so constantly, for everything and yet, needed less and less each day.

This morning I told him it was time to go to the bathroom and do his business to get ready. There was no argument, no dawdling. "OK! I don't want to be late!" he yelled as he dashed off to the bathroom. I went to get his clothes for him to change into and he announced he would change his clothes himself. This is something he has been capable of doing for a long time, but often requires assistance if I want to leave the house in less than an hour from that moment in time. Today he was in his clothes lickety split and even put his socks on. His shoes were downstairs or he probably would have had those on too.

To see him excited and happy to go to school is gratifying. I have never questioned that continuing to work and send him to day care/preschool full time was the right decision. Financially we could not afford to do it any other way, and home day care just didn't seem the right fit for him. He has been so happy at The Barn, and they have done a great job caring for and teaching him. It is just nice to have the validation of our decision so apparent.

It is what is supposed to happen, this growing and moving away from who he has been and toward whom he will become. It is the exact definition of bittersweet. I don't have any clue what the next two years much less the next 15 or 20 years will hold. I am not going to worry about it. I am going to try to embrace the moment, the memory of him leaping around the playground this morning, working out his Batman/Spiderman/Ironman moves. My little superhero.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Calling Dr. Freud, Calling Dr. Freud...

My kid is growing. Like most parents I see him first thing in the morning and think "Where did my baby go?" because I am unearthing a long legged, mature looking, just lost his first tooth kid.

Did I mention he lost his first tooth? He did. At school on Friday. The teachers all agreed they have never had any child in younger preschool lose a tooth before. My kid is ADVANCED people.

He is also exhibiting what I think is fairly typical behavior for an almost 5 year old, but it is still annoying and hurtful to certain parties.

In a nutshell, he totally digs me, but is less enthusiastic about his father. To the point where he will not make eye contact, will not answer when spoken to, and generally pushes away from The Bob.

I think we parent pretty similarly, and I am not a push over or soft touch with Coop. I just think we have entered that phase of his development where he digs one parent over the other and I am that parent right now. I remember my brother going through a phase in this age range where he would say he was going to marry our mom when he grew up. It was cute, and he outgrew it.

But in the meantime, it is hard for The Bob not to take it personally. We have responded to this behavior with various things like turning off the TV if he is watching it and not answering his father when he speaks to him. Take away his SpongeBob and it gets his attention pretty fast. I have sat down with him and talked about how sad Cooper feels when he feels like kids at school are excluding him or purposefully being mean, does he want his dad to feel the same way? Of course he doesn't, so then we talked about how much his dad loves him and Cooper needs to show him he loves him back.

When I am not around this is not as much of an issue, so I know I am the catalyst for this behavior. I mean, I know I am AWESOME SAUCE with a side of FABULOUS. But it still isn't fair. So for the three people who read this blog regularly who might have some insight and suggestions, is this just a phase and it will pass just like his "I want to be up playing for 2 hours in the middle of the night" phase passed? Is there something we should be doing or not doing to assist in its passing in a healthy way?

Finally, this weekend we spent time finding ways of killing time because of rain rain and more rain. Cooper has decided working out is FUN!

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Put One Foot In Front of the Other, and Soon You are Walking Across the Floor...

This is a story I have never gotten around to on this blog, because I generally focus on my life as it currently exists, not on what it used to be. That is not to say I don't remember my history, that I am not informed by it, I just choose to stay focused on now and the near future in my daily thought process. My addled brain and soul cannot handle much more than that quite frankly.

But there is a need to share it, as a way of saying to a couple special people in my life who are all facing something very very difficult, that it sucks while you are going through it, but you can and will survive it.

Much like when a doctor needs to break a previously broken bone that has begun healing badly, so as to reset it and let it heal properly, divorce often is necessary so that all parties can become something else, something new, something hopefully better separately than the individuals had become as a couple.

No one stands in front of the officiant of choice (minister, judge, justice of the peace etc.) and speaks the vows of marriage thinking "Well, I can undo this any ol' time I want and it won't be a big deal." Well, most people don't. I know I didn't. I have been married once before I found The Bob and I certainly thought it was a forever bond. We had been friends for quite a few years before we became spouses. I went into it knowing there were some serious health issues on his part, and that he had some pain and suffering in his past from the loss of a parent, the subsequent poverty and alcoholism that his family had to deal with. I didn't think I could fix him, but I did think that by choosing something so positive as marrying me, he was choosing to look forward. Choosing to embrace the future together as a couple.

There isn't much you can do when someone is very broken in the heart and soul. I decided after a short time that his heart condition was from a scientific perspective the result of a bad infection he contracted while on vacation in Mexico (a sign to his perpetually dark and brooding psyche that he was always going to be punished for thinking he deserved to enjoy life and audaciously chose to go on vacation), but I saw it as a spiritual and psychic breakdown on the part of his body. If you choose to stay so angry at everyone and everything for so long, that is eventually going to manifest itself in your body. And his heart was what gave out first.

After a year of what turned out to be a five year long marriage, I knew our marriage was doomed. It took me another year to grieve that realization, and come to an acceptance that it was OK for the marriage to end, and another two years before he found the job opportunity that would take him to another state. When he first indicated he needed to leave New England because he was miserable being cold for 5 months (the result of his condition and medication) I asked him one question. If he found the perfect job, and he decided he wanted to move to wherever that job was, would this be "I am moving and I want you to come with me" or was it "I am moving and I need to do this by myself." He said quietly that he needed to do it by himself. I nodded, expecting that answer, and told him that he needed to go find that job, but here was what I needed to make this work, and that mostly included assistance paying the mortgage on our house until such time I could afford to buy him out or I could handle moving and selling it.

It took another year or so for him to find the job and move, during which time we lived pretty much as roommates. Roommates who shared a bed and house, but not much else. It was at that point that I began some of the projects he never wanted to get involved in around the house, painting and such, because it was too exhausting for him to deal with. I was beginning to make the space mine, without him.

I helped him pack. I tolerated having boxes in my life that would be sent by UPS or he would come back for later. I just wanted him to move on, so I could as well. I didn't want this angry unhappy person in my space anymore. The anger was never directed at me, but it was just always there.

The day he drove away was a hard, hard day. But I walked through my house, my quiet, slightly emptier house, and said quiet prayers for his safe travels, and for my own safe travels forward.

8 months later I met The Bob. Two years after than we married, and the next year Cooper came into our lives. In the meantime, I managed to find my way back to being friends with him. It has been almost 10 years since he moved to Arizona, and I have been married to The Bob longer than I had been married to him. We have been divorced longer than we were married. It is now all ancient history. Not history I have forgotten, but also not history I choose to wallow in. I am happy, he is finding his way to happier. He has found some physical healing, and is finding his way to some healing of his soul. It's all good. I don't regret anything, but I also don't wish for it to have gone differently. It just is what it is. We had to break something apart that just wasn't working so we could both heal as two better but separate spirits.

Divorce SUCKS. It drains you, it hurts, it makes you question and second guess everything you believed in, that you have decided to do. But you will be OK. If you take it one step at a time, if you don't let the snarky darker parts of you get the better of the situation and get hurtful toward each other, especially when there is no reason for it, if you try to hold in front you the vision of the person you first loved, and the reasons you loved that person, and the reasons that you will continue to love that person, but apart, not together, you will be OK.

Remember that none of you is alone in this. There are people who love all of you who are here for you and will care for all of you in the new world you are creating. We will love the new you you are all becoming.

One foot in front of the other...

Friday, August 12, 2011

On Fire Twirling and Other Life Lessons

It is a place trapped in time in so many subtle and obvious ways. The general store in the center of town has a new paint job, with a cheerful white facade and brilliant green trim, a jaunty string of lobster buoys hanging across it. But inside the wooden floors still creak, and are just a little uneven and slanted, whispering of years of locals and visitors from away coming in to find a can of this and a bottle of that.

It celebrates it's origins with Friendship Days, which includes a parade as old fashioned and fabulous as any you can remember from your childhood. There are fire trucks, old cars with old citizens and Veterans of old wars riding in them. There is an old style oompapa band, as well as a relatively new addition, a roller derby team showing off some of their tattoos and skills. Candy is thrown from the cars and trucks, and kids scramble to get as much as they can.

We go every year to visit with friends, and the cove, even with some of the changes like new concrete steps on the cabins and a new counter in the kitchen, hot AND cold running water in the house (long gone are the days of a very cold shower on a chill summer morning), seems as changeless as the ocean you can see from every porch.

One of two newer residents in the cove. They came FOR dinner, not to BE dinner...

The Barnstable...

Fishing for the first time...

Conquering the slide that scared him last year...

And yet, while you sit on the porch, in the glider that has been there for as long as anyone can remember, the red vinyl cushions inexplicably undecayed, there is always opportunity to learn something new, to grow and explore and be the better for having been there.

We were sitting on the porch, 15 or so of us, enjoying the late afternoon sun, having wine and appetizers, catching up on a year of kids growing, new jobs, new ailments, when they approached us from one of the other cabins. A man and a woman, who were new to the cove. Newcomers are always interesting, because the cove is not on the beaten path, with regulars who have been coming to stay for decades, if not generations crossing a century. They came to say hi and invite us to a fire twirling demonstration later. I had no reference point for this so I asked what she meant. "Like the cheerleader with the fiery baton" she responded. She was just learning she said, and I asked what inspired her to try it. "I turned 50 this year, and I decided to do something scary as a way of reclaiming my power" she answered. Because I was curious, I went down later to the green in front of the cabin they were staying in to see the demonstration. She was quite obviously a novice, but it was still quite interesting.

Meanwhile, her companion, a 6'5" or so, 300lb man was chatting with a few of the other people, and handing out business cards. She explained it was for a blog he writes. He lives in Cambridge MA and writes a blog. He looked like every computer geek/slacker you have ever met. Some people later commented on how gauche it seemed to hand out business cards to people you have just met while on vacation. Being a blog writer of sorts myself, I didn't really have a problem with it. He just seemed like a big ol' nerd and good for him for trying to get the word out on his endeavors.

The joke was sort of on all of us. The card went forgotten for a few days after I arrived home, but on the weekend I found it again in my card while rummaging for something, so I decided to see what it was about. In the process of finding that out I found out about him. It would appear he is something of a genius entrepreneur. He went to MIT for the first time when he was 16 (seems he has several degrees, two from MIT). Then he created a company, which designed one of the first massive, multiplayer online games. He sold the company last year for 160 MILLION DOLLARS. So. In the category of "do not judge a book by its cover" this guy apparently was a) smarter than all of us on the porch that night, combined, and b) richer than all of us on the porch, or even in the cove for that matter, combined.

I didn't see much of them the rest of the time we were in the cove. I would like to think I would have taken the time to get to know them better if I had. But there, in the cove, which seems to never change, our little world was broadened just a bit, by power reclaiming fire twirling and genius entrepreneurs.

Editors note: I have no idea why some of the text is highlighted and goofy. Something happened when I was editing the photos.