Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Dear Little Ones

I know life seems so uncertain and confusing to you right now and I'm so sorry.  I know you feel pulled in opposing directions, that your life feels out of control, that all you want is for the dust to settle so you can move forward with your life.  You feel that all of mess from Mom and Dad's divorce just needs to stop so you can move on with your life.  You feel angry and hurt at the unfairness of it all.  I know that you feel these things because I feel the same way.  I'm so sorry, my precious little ones.

I wish I could have been smarter and wiser about being married to your father.  I wish things could have ended differently.  I wish things were better today than they are now.  I have made so many mistakes and made so many bad decisions but know this.  You were never one of them.  You are the best of me and the best of your father and the best part of the time your father and I were together.

Firstling; you are the child who made me a mother.  You were the child who brought me to understand what 'unconditional love' truly meant.  You were the dream I never knew I wanted until I heard your first cry the day you were born.  Firstling, I wept the day you were born; tears born of a deep primal connection that is a mother's love for her child.  Firstling, I know that you are suffering most of all because you remember the time when our family was whole.

Secondling, you are the child your parents fought for.  You are the miracle.  You are the child who brings joy and delight to everyone you meet.  Your gentle touch, your impish smile, your angel voice make all the struggle of daily life disappear and for a brief moment, all the problems of the world are forgotten.  Secondling, you made us all better people merely for the privilege of being your family.  Secondling, you do not remember the love that used to describe your family but you are living proof that it was real.

My darling babies.  What you must understand, what you must never forget is that in spite of everything, your father and I are always on the same side; your side.  Whatever the problem between your father and I, it is our problem, not yours.  It is not yours to fix, or mediate, or resolve.  Your father and I will always love you, even though you may not believe it.  Your father and I will always support you, even when you don't feel it.  Your father and I will always do what we think is right, even though you may not believe it.  We will be wrong many times.  We will make mistakes many times.  And yes, we will continue to disagree, many times.  But we will never disagree about loving you.  Forgive us.  We are doing the best we can, we are trying to be the parents you need.  We may never be the parents you want and as your mother, I am prepared to admit that my best may never be good enough.  The only promise I can make is that you will always get the best part of me.  I'm sorry for my deficiencies.

Be brave and be strong my darling angels.  I have every confidence that you have the courage and strength you need because you are my children and I am your mother.  You are still too young to fully understand the realities of what is happening in our lives right now.  No matter what the future holds, I can promise you this; I will always be here for you.  When you are ready, I will tell you what you need to know.  In the meantime, my children, remember those words Firstling said to Secondling the day you met in the hospital.

"I'm going to love you forever.  I'll never stop loving you."

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

I can take a hint

After reviewing my FB page, I think I need to move all my rambling thoughts to this blog.  To whit, a commentary on the events of this past weekend.

Congratulations to William Wales and Catherine Middleton.  It was a lovely wedding.  
Allow me a few moments of complete superficiality before I delve into the political.  The dress was beautiful, she looked beautiful, and Alexander McQueen would never have made that dress if he were alive today.  McQueen designs clothes that look like this, not the very safe dress worn for this wedding.  Don't get me wrong.  It was totally appropriate for the event and her station in life but a signature dress it was not.  There are some dresses that will forever be linked to the women who wore them and referenced and copied for generations.  There is a reason so many people immediately likened the dress to Grace Kelly.  Kelly wore a dress that would forever be referred to as the "Grace Kelly wedding dress."  Diana Princess of Wales also wore a dress that would forever be referenced as the "Princess Diana wedding dress."  This was Catherine's opportunity to create a singular look that would become synonymous with her.  She didn't. 

Congratulations and thanks to our military and our leadership for finally bringing Osama bin Laden to justice
This was an emotional turning point in the war on terror.  We are still learning more details about the operation and the facts are still being sorted out as I write this.  What we know is that this day could not have come about without the hard work, patience, and sacrifice of many people; including members of the intelligence community, our military, and our political leadership.  I know this may come as a shock, but I even tip my hat to our former President Bush. 

Right now, the pressing question on the minds of serious thinkers is the role of Pakistan and the nature of our partnership with that nation.  By now, it's clear that bin Laden had help from people inside Pakistan.  The most innocent explanation is that he either had well placed moles or sympathizers in the government and the ISI but that knowledge of his whereabouts were not known at the highest levels of Pakistani government.  At worst, the government knew and played the US for as long as they could.  Either way, this is a terribly awkward moment for the Pakistani government. Still, on the balance, I think the operation and the manner in which is was conducted is a win-win for the Pakistani government.  Osama bin Laden is not around to rally the locals into violence against them and they can tell the Arab street with absolute veracity that they do not have bin Laden's blood on their hands. 

I would hasten to add, despite any initial push to cut our ties with Pakistan, we need to be very cautious about this relationship going forward.  I posted elsewhere that the sad reality is that the current government in Pakistan may be the least worst option.  Recall that Pakistan is only just emerging from decades of military dictatorship.  It also has nuclear weapons.  As disreputable as the current regime may be, they aren't arming themselves or our enemies for nuclear war against us or Israel or the Gulf Oil states.  It would be understating the issue to say it is important for US interests that a nuclear state be our ally as opposed to our enemy.  The danger of cutting and running from Pakistan is the real threat that the regime would collapse and fall into the hands of people who actually hate the US, as opposed to corrupt and greedy leaders who merely want our money.

Sarah Palin needs to go away and take her wingnut friends with her. 
Look.  Osama bin Laden is dead.  For all those morons squawking about seeing the pictures I say this.

When the world saw pictures of our war dead being dragged and mutilated through the streets in Mogadishu and in Iraq, we raged at the lack of respect for the dead. I for one believe we ought to hold ourselves to a higher standard. We do not display the dead bodies of our enemies as war trophies.  We are the United States of America and we are better than that.

The US military does not carry bb guns into combat. They carry high powered high caliber weapons. These weapons, when discharged; especially at close range as in the case of bin Laden, will leave a huge gaping hole. In short, massive amounts of the man’s head would be missing. It is not an image that should be seen except by those who are required to view it.

And I just want to add that I think it’s a sad statement of our public discourse that some among us choose to think the President is lying about such an important issue as the death of Osama bin Laden. Really? Really? Believe me, if he were making this all up, al-Quaeda would have put out a proof of life video just for the opportunity to humiliate Obama and the US. So yes, the man is dead.  Let's all be relieved and grateful and get on with building the kind of free society bin Laden and his ilk tried to destroy.

Friday, January 22, 2010

Holding on to precious memories

Inchmark has a great idea for a little pick me up, a little memory keeping, a little inspiration for our days. 

I take no credit for this but I am going to shameless copy this.

My cousin does this by posting her child's sunny saying on Facebook.  But this method is much more immediate.  Regardless, if it is good enough for Joan, it's good enough for me.

I hope you find some inspiration close to home.  I hope you can take a few moments out of your day to capture that ray of joy and purity.  I know there are those of you out there feeling pretty low today.  I'm thinking about you.  

Thursday, January 7, 2010


I was divorced this morning. 11 years, two kids and many long and lonely nights. For both of us. Any marriage hit rough patches. I’m not anti-divorce, some relationships need to end. But it is too often the selfish and stupid path to choose. Divorce, especially when there are children involved, does not “fix” or “end” your problems, they merely give force you to deal with a different set of problems.

The process of divorce was expensive and emotionally damaging both to us and to our kids. But in so many ways, even though we are no longer legally man and wife, we will be tied to each other emotionally and financially. I get 1/2 of his pension and deferred comp, regardless of remarriage (Highly UN likely) when he retires. That will be a monthly reminder in my old age of the time we were together. I guess the point I am trying to make is that I still believe, despite everything he did to me, that we COULD HAVE SURVIVED, if he would have had the courage to fight for our marriage. While I’m happy it’s over, I know that this could have ended differently. That marital and parenting counseling would have been MUCH cheaper and all of us; him, me, our kids, would be happier today. And it’s my disappointment in his lack of courage that stings the most.

So what is the moral of this sad tale? My Ex-Husband faced inhuman levels of stress, saw un-imaginable horror. We as wives and mothers also face our share of daily stress. Life can so quickly and easily put things like our relationships on the back burner. If you’re waiting for the “right” time to talk about what’s going on in your relationship, then it’s already too late. Don’t feel guilty about “burdening” him with the stress of your relationship. He’s a partner in this and needs to share in the responsibility of maintaining and improving that relationship. Just because he has this really stressful job, doesn’t mean that his emotional needs take priority over yours. Just as you need to support him, he needs to support you. Asking for the things you need is not selfish. Giving him the things he needs (time, space, an outlet) is just as important. We are not superwomen and we can’t fix everything for them.

Finally, I’ll sign off with on last piece of advice.

No one who has been married for 50 years was madly in love with each other every day for 50 years. There WILL be times when you have to be more committed to your marriage than you are to the person you married. But if you work at maintaining your relationship, building it back up when things erode, repairing it when things are broken, then you can and will survive.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Winter, where are you

I like snow.  I really do.  Even when I had to shovel, there where something satisfying about being in the cold, moving the stuff and working up a sweat.  It's December in WI, and we still don't have snow.  Supposedly, it's on it's way tonight.  We'll see. 

Thanksgiving was a wonderful time.  It's always been my favorite holiday and not just because every few years it falls on my birthday.  Thanksgiving is all the good parts of Christmas without any of the hassle of Christmas.  There is no stress of buying gifts, no hassle of chimney to cellar decorating.  It's just family coming together to eat and enjoy each others company.  This was the first time many years I had gone home for the holiday.  Because HE often had to work, I stayed put with the kids and we made our own holiday.  I won't lie.  It was hard not to think that HE should be with us, especially when it was dark and rainy and I was alone with my thoughts while the kids slept in the back seat.  It was all I could do not to pick up the phone and tell him how much I missed him and how I wished he was there with me.  But it's bad enough that I torture myself, I won't give him any openings to do the same.  It was our first Thanksgiving if not divorced legally, divorced emotionally.  I stopped in the middle of the night and spent a few hours sleeping over a my cousin's house.  We chatted and talked and tried to catch up.  Eventually, I made the kids come take a nap and we slept for a few hours before creeping out in the early morning darkness to head out west.  Thanks Nat and Joe. 

There is always something about the last few miles to your childhood home.  The route is so familiar and yet, when you've been gone for a long time, everything and every mile seems like the first time you took the car out after getting your learner's permit.  Look at the trees, they really grew.  Oh, they painted their house.  Of course, none of this matters to your kids and you only further cement your reputation as an addled brained adult. 

The kids and I pulled into the farm just before Thanksgiving dinner.  The house smelled like home and family.  That sort of warm blanket feel you get when you come home.  My brother, bless him, had made a special trip home from college so he could see us.  It was the only holiday all of my parents kids would be home.  It was a lot of driving and he had lots of work to do but that not so little anymore boy still makes me proud.  My niece was waiting, not so patiently for her cousins to arrive.  The ties of family are mysteriously strong.  Despite her many friends, she adores her cousin.  By now, the kids are finally old enough that they aren't killing each other, but in our family, loud rambunctious children are considered part of the family tradition.  We didn't get to see my aunt and her family this year.  But they're all starting their own lives and new families.  We all ate too much but we sure had a good time. 

The next day was my birthday.  The kids are still small enough that their mother's birthday isn't much of a big deal.  In fact, it wasn't.  I did get them to say happy birthday to me but there were hand-made cards.  When we were married, we made sure the kids made a picture or a card for the other on our birthdays.  HE apparently never thought much of it since he complained that I never made a big deal out of birthdays and that I never gave him a birthday present in the 10 years we were together.  To be honest, no, I don't make a big deal about birthdays and for me, the most important "gift" to give on birthdays is the knowledge that the person is loved and appreciated.  For me, all I want is a hug and kiss and a card.  Really.  I don't want a big production and I don't want some trinket that cost money we don't have and that I really don't like. 

Perhaps the hardest part of the day was taking the kids over to see their other grandparents.  I knew it was the right thing to do and it was god for the kids.  I hated it.  I hated every second of being there and being nice and pretending that nothing had changed.  I hated having her give me hug when I knew she would just as well drive a knife in my back.  I hated the cursory hello from him and how he studiously avoided looking at me, talking to me, or otherwise acknowledging my presence.  Oh, hi, it's just my birthday and I could spend the time with my family and I didn't have to spend it by letting you have time with your grandchildren.  My sister and I ducked out, went to the coffee shop and had lunch.  We browsed the only nice place to shop in town.  Obviously, I was shopping on impulse because I spent way too much money on mittens.

The only thing that salvaged the rest of the birthday was meeting Lisa at the local bar.  Drinks are cheap and when you go home, usually populated by your own family.  I met another cousin and an old acquaintance from high school and we had a grand time.  Thanks guys.

The kids and I hauled out early the next day.  We did stop to see HIS parents for a short while.  And we only had to turn back once, when my son realized he had left video games at my parents.  The drive back was much easier, especially since the weather was better and the only major hiccup was a detour about 3 hours from home.  But I called HIM and said we were going to be late.  He didn't sound terribly concerned.  But that was my second I wish HE was here moment, ask I struggled with the map and the traffic jam, and two worried kids and the dark trying to figure out if there was an easier way to avoid the bottleneck.

So, that was Thanksgiving.  Far from Rockwell's ideal.  But I am thankful for it none the less.  My kids and I are doing better.  My family and friends have never been stronger.  So here's to new traditions.