As a young wife (24 when I married my ex-husband) and then a young mom (25 when my first was born), thinking about family planning and the ripple effect on how I would eventually balance life / career was not top-of-mind. Possibly it was immaturity, possibly it was naiveté, probably it was a combination of the two. I was already in the workforce, but still sussing out what I wanted and where I wanted to go. My daughter was born in the midst of the dot-com boom, and by way of good choices and good fortune, I found myself in a great position to leave corporate America and consult from a home office giving me the opportunity to be with my new baby and still be part of the working world.
I always thought…used to think?…was conditioned to think?… (I’ll get back to that). At some point, and for a very long time, I was a black and white kind of person and had a fear of confusion that came with areas of gray so I made every effort to avoid it. Personally, professionally, emotionally, cognitively…
Once again this month has been very busy, leaving me little time to myself, making it hard to find a moment to write. That is until this past holiday weekend when I was sans husband or children in our house—a house, I might add, I had NEVER once spent a night alone in six years we lived there. Check the box on that bucket list now…
A little over a week ago my family and I returned from a family trip to the Caribbean. These kinds of trips are always incredibly special to me. I have memories of spring vacations from when I was growing up so nostalgia is part of it, but it’s also been a while since the four of us have been able to go away together. So this trip felt special in a few ways–almost like a victory for our family.
It’s hard to believe it’s practically May and I haven’t written a post in almost a month. April was a bit of a roller coaster for me–emotions and decisions, new opportunities and (my personal favorite) change. Any and all of this could reasonably account for my loss of time and lack of word count–but if I’m being totally honest, there was also some recreational time packed in there for relaxing and enjoying a week off with my family (more on that later).
Forgiveness is tricky. It’s very difficult to get from a place of anger and resentment to forgiveness. The best way I know how to forgive is to try to find empathy for the respective person or people–attempting to put myself in their shoes and see the world from their point-of-view. This is, of course, a process and it takes time, patience and fortitude (and the amount of time is commensurate with the level of resentment), but it’s usually worked for me.
It’s been a while since I’ve written anything here. I have two or three posts almost complete but for one reason or another I just have not felt ready to publish. I’d like to go into the details of my absence, but I can’t say too-too much except that I’ve had some personal / family-related things come up that needed to be addressed and so pretty much everything in my life went on hold except this situation and the bare essentials: work, kids, some sleep and if I do feed myself it’s erratic at best (I’m still noshing at midnight). I will say it’s not my husband or kids–they are all fine, knock wood–but it did give me time to think and reflect on what is truly important, especially in the spirit of “giving,” which is the context of this blog.
Whatever emotional riptide I am going through, the holiday season always seems to amplify it–if I’m happy and grateful I feel 100x more so and if I’m sad and lonely the same is true.
The most difficult holiday season I ever experienced was also the one that helped me realize how strong I was. It was my first Christmas as a single mom. My ex-husband and I had separated in May and we had done Thanksgiving and Christmas Eve dinner together at my mother’s house (like always) for the kids, but Christmas Eve where wrapping and assembling toys to go under the tree was now my responsibility alone and I had under estimated this task–not so much the wrapping, I loved that, but the assembling. I had a 3.5 year-old-boy and a 6 year-old-girl and when they get a present on Christmas from Santa, it’s not just a box in pretty paper. It’s put together so they can play with it right away. And Santa went to town this year. He got a pirate ship and an easel and some Barbie contraption–all “Assembly Required.” And while this probably isn’t an issue for an elf at the North Pole, as a newly single mom who just got fed another dose of reality at 11pm alone in my living room on Christmas Eve, it felt like my Everest.
As the mother of two children, every year I encounter the same question from family and friends: “what do the kids want this year?” Of course my kids make lists. Professionally, in a former life, I even worked on a holiday gift list solution for moms because from the moment I gave birth, this has always been a conundrum–what is the right answer and how do you coordinate who is getting and giving what? Unfortunately the service I mentioned is no longer available, but these are some websites and apps you should check out if you’re looking to make list sharing with family and friends painless and simple this season…and beyond.
Thanksgiving was one of my favorite holidays. As a pre-teenager through my early twenties, I remember my mother and father hosting a couple dozen people in our formal dining room on the upper west side. It’s funny how specific memories may fade but flavors remain–ricotta and sausage stuffing (we’re Italian), antipasto salad, my mother’s apple pie and my aunt’s pumpkin chiffon pie.