Looking Back

There have been a few moments in these past few weeks that have had me going through my social media pages to find pictures that I want to show to someone or look at in order to remember something relating to them. For the most part, since my marriage ended in early May of 2019, I have managed to not spend much time at all looking back at the pictures taken prior to the date where I knew something was wrong with my marriage…May 5, 2019. What should have been a joyous day as I had just run my 8th half marathon and hit some goals that day. Only to find that my ex husband and son were not at the finish line nor did he answer any of my phone calls and texts I sent afterwards…and I later found out that he and my son were out for brunch the entire time with the woman who is now his girlfriend.

But I digress.

Today I was trying to find a picture of a truck that the ex and I took over ownership on from my grandfather. This involved me having to go way back in the picture collection to see if I even had one picture of that truck. I didn’t. But going through the pictures I noticed a trend that started in late summer 2015, when our son was born, and carried on until today. The trend was pictures I had taken of my son and posted. It’s not an unusual trend for a parent to take a boat load of pictures of their child. But for me, seeing these pictures made me realize how many evenings and weekends where these pictures were taken, where it was just me and my son. My ex husband was rarely, rarely there. I know when he was actually there with us as I would make a point of including him in the pictures. But there are so few of them with him in them. I know when I was married and our son came into the world that my ex husband very much left me as a solo mother as he pursued his career and networking. I thought I was taking a short term risk in life in order to support him and in time the successes of that would pay off. I didn’t know the payoff would be our marriage ending and me becoming a single mother. But I think part of me didn’t realize HOW often my ex husband wasn’t working and he still never ever came and played with his son or came along on hikes with us or to the pool with us. It was always that he needed to deliver something to someone…and would take hours to do it before coming home and falling down on the couch. Or he arranged a last minute meeting or a forgotten about a meeting and he had to go to. Or he would have some kind of home project on the go that would never get fully completed. There was literally always an excuse as to why he couldn’t come and hang out with his family. It always bothered me but I still continued to invite him to come do stuff with us. It would take going and doing something that actually interested him in order to get him to spend time with us. A simple trip to the public pool or going to a playground wasn’t good enough for him to come and spend time with us. It needed to be something that didn’t bore him. Anyone who is a parent knows that often part of parenting is doing things that aren’t necessarily exhilarating for the parent but you do it for the love of your child. All of my pictures for four years show how truly absent he was.

It doesn’t make me sad that he wasn’t there for these small moments. It doesn’t matter to me because I was there and I get to hold those memories of the conversations we had while walking in the pouring rain on the trails in the mountains. I get to keep the memories of his firsts while at the pool. Those are mine and only mine and his dad now has to live with knowing how much he missed out on.

What it does though is make me angry. Angry that for the first four years of my son’s life that it was all me who raised the amazing little boy he is now. And now that we are separated and sharing him 50/50, my ex husband gets to bring him around to his friends and his family and basically reap the rewards of my hard work. He gets praised for being such a good dad, raising such a great little human. He now looks like this rockstar dad in everyone’s eyes. It makes me want to straight up scream and shake all of them and tell them what a deadbeat he was before he was FORCED into having to become a day to day parent. I know that I shouldn’t let the words other people use towards my ex and his parenting get to me….but they do. And they hurt. Sure, now he’s a good dad to our son and he’s creating lots of good memories and actually parenting….but hearing people praising him for a year of good parenting after I went through four years of doing it all alone and never heard any praise from him on how great I was doing…it sucks. He is succeeding in many ways as a parent because of what I created when he abandoned us constantly in evenings and weekends. It’s tough.

I am mostly keeping my head afloat these days since it’s been about a year and a half since our split. But some days just one little moment can knock me down again.

Dating

Since my marriage ended in May of 2019 I have dabbled a bit here and there in the dating world. In August of 2019 I dated one guy for about two months before I realized it was much too much way too soon and I ended it. Crushing his eager heart. Around December I jumped back on the dating apps due to loneliness and boredom and started talking with another guy who had two kids. We went on a good first date and then started hanging out whenever we didn’t have our kids. I knew something wasn’t quite the right fit with him but I ignored my inner voice and carried on with it. To the point where we actually went on a weekend away with one another. When I picked him up to start the drive for that weekend I knew right away that something was off. He wasn’t feeling well and was weirdly distant. Over the course of the weekend I could definitely feel cool air coming from him and just a weird vibe all around. Sure enough, the week following that weekend away I didn’t hear from him much. Then he called me on the following Saturday and, while my son was playing in the background and interrupting the call constantly, he ended things with me essentially saying he enjoyed hanging out with me but that there was “nothing there”. Which came down to physical attraction. And that is incredibly hard to hear. I actually got pissed with him and told him that if he was feeling that way then why did he go through with the weekend away that wasn’t exactly cheap. He said he truly wanted to go away with me but didn’t start feeling this way until after, when he had time to organize his thoughts. I know I dodged a bullet with him as I didn’t like his parenting style. He is Croatian and had a pretty hard life growing up and it reflected on how he spoke to his very young children. He talked about his ex WAY too much and seemed almost obsessed with her while at the same time hating her. He also lived too far from where I live and never wanted to come out my way. I didn’t realize I still had him on my instagram until just the other week as he never posts anything. But he ended up posting a picture of a similar view from a day we spent together, but I noticed he tagged a girl in the post. So, being the idiot that I am, I went and looked at her profile. I’m guessing they met shortly after he dumped me and they are now all in love and have blended their two families together. I won’t lie…it hurt seeing that. It’s never easy seeing someone I was involved with, even if only briefly, finding someone to be happy with when I am still floundering in the dating world trying to find someone who will want me in their life.

Since that little dating moment ended in early February I have basically put dating on the backburner. Covid naturally put a halt to that anyway as there was no way I was going to be going on dates when a pandemic is running rampant in Canada. I started to talk with a guy in April and we really hit it off in messages and that eventually moved to phone calls. A connection seemed to be forming and even though we hadn’t met yet, it felt potentially strong. Long story short, he lived on an island off the coast of where I live and twice we made plans for him to come over and actually meet after we had been talking for almost two months. Twice, days before the meet up date, some big life event would happen which would make him unable to come. It all seemed a little fishy but I thought there’s no way that someone could be catfishing me to that extreme. The connection carried on building and more weirdness kept coming from his end. We spoke on the phone and texted for almost three months with no actual meet up. Then one day a ridiculous argument happened via text message and he started to fade out. Then another crappy life moment happened for him (allegedly) and he basically told me I would be better off finding someone more stable than him and someone whose life doesn’t have issue after issue following them around. I was honestly pretty crushed. I don’t know how he was so successful in his game (if that’s what it was) but he really had me thinking about a future with him and believing that my feelings were really strong. He sent a message or two here and then and then just disappeared completely. I tried sending a few messages over the span of about three weeks but decided I needed to stop. For my own mental health. He wasn’t responding anymore. There was no point. I feel all kinds of foolish for falling for what might have been a very epic and unusual catfish. I feel like an idiot for sharing a lot of my life and struggles with someone who may have just been playing me. I feel stupid for the fact that he might have been sitting there on his side of the phone laughing at how he found the perfect idiot. But, strangely…as I continue on in this dating world, I still find myself missing our talks and missing the idea of this person that he had created in my head. I wouldn’t say he painted himself as the perfect partner, but he somehow, without knowing what my ideal man is, was able to tick a lot of the boxes for me. I’m annoyed with myself for missing someone that I never met and who likely included me in his twisted game. Which I guess would make him successful.

I took a brief break from the dating apps from June until August. I just didn’t have it in me to put myself out there. I jumped back on around early August and have been relatively unsuccessful in having any conversations that have moved beyond the first five messages. Except for with one person. He and I moved from messaging on the app to texting and then quickly to phone calls because he is a terrible texter. There were a few very, very lengthy phone calls and then we made arrangements to meet. He lives about an hour and 20 minute drive from where I live but he came all the way to my town and we had a good first date at my house. He’s different than anyone I have dated before, in that he’s quite thin, has minimal interest in fitness, and…he smokes. Usually I am 100% against dating a smoker. But because there felt like there was a bit of a connection there, I was willing to put it aside to see what is there. We have since been on about 3 more dates, including a few sleepovers where he has come to my place after work and stayed the night. The smoking strangely hasn’t bothered me too much and he is making the steps towards quitting. He is rougher around the edges and less “classy” than other people I have dated. He’s super sociable and the kind of person who actually acknowledges what changes he needs to make in his life and does them. He’s quite affectionate and kind. But it now is starting to feel like it’s the point where I’m wondering where it could go given how far we live apart and how we can only see one another when we don’t have our kids. We haven’t had any discussions on if either of us are talking to other people on the dating apps. Because I have been had some feelings of uneasiness relating to whatever this is, I haven’t fully removed myself from the dating apps. I don’t want to put all my eggs into one basket until any kind of discussion happens about exclusivity. The last two days or so I’ve been picking up on some weird vibes off of him and I don’t know what they relate to. I also can’t seem to get much info out of him on it either. He has said that he’s in a funk right now because it’s “been a week” and he’s dealing with it. But that’s about all I have gotten out of him. So…I don’t know. If it was my actual partner who was in this place then I would of course be all up in it and trying to help, but given there is no label or whatever on us, I don’t know what he expects me to do. It’s awkward. I feel uneasy and nervous. I feel I may be right on the cusp of him telling me that we aren’t going to go any farther than this. Who knows. He’s coming up on one year since his 15 year relationship ended. He also still spends time with his ex because of their 7 year old daughter and the fact that he has to support her in a lot of ways. I now know that right now, as I’m writing this, he is actually alone with her. And I’m trying to remain calm and not crazy, but internally I’m pretty much losing my mind.

Dating is incredibly hard nowadays. Meeting someone “organically” just doesn’t happen as much. So the only choice is to continue weeding through the options on dating apps and hoping that maybe some day the right one will pop up and give a good reason to never worry about the status of the situation is and who will take on all of the single mother baggage on board with open arms. Until then, I will keep putting my guarded heart out there and see what might happen.

First Day

Along with the big milestone of turning 5 years old comes the even bigger milestone of graduating from daycare/preschool and starting real school for my little boy. This is a big moment for both the child as well as the parents.

Today was day one of my son having his first full day at school. He started his gradual entry into kindergarten on Monday and they jumped the kids into full days pretty quickly. Maybe it’s normal…maybe it’s not. I’m not sure. The road to get to this day has been a pretty rough one. Because not only is sending your child off to his first day ever of school a bit rough, but doing it in the middle of a global pandemic is even harder. We had no clue even if schools were going to be opening their doors in September here in Canada. My ex and I spent weeks talking back and forth on what the hell we are supposed to do if the schools don’t open. My son has aged out of preschool and daycare so that’s not an option. We live in a small town and finding a nanny is like finding a needle in a haystack. The babysitter who we hired for the last 1.5 months went back to school as well so she wasn’t an option. We were at a major loss on what we would do. And then there was the discussion of if we should even be sending him to school when Covid-19 transmission rates have been moving up faster than they have since the pandemic hit Canada. Do we take that risk? Both of us need to work so staying home with him was not an option. So we had to make an incredibly hard decision to send him off to school, to expand his “bubble” way beyond what we have been keeping it at and basically just stand back and keep our fingers crossed that we aren’t going to face the repercussions of that decision.

So we made it to this week and with nerves abundant for everyone, he started school. My ex took him for the three days of gradual entry as I need to preserve my vacation time from work just in case the schools do end up closing or he gets sick. He is a different kid with his dad and he isn’t as clingy so there was minimal issue with him on those gradual entry days. He became pretty happy to go into the classroom. He even made a new friend. He didn’t get assigned to the teacher that we had hoped he would, but that’s life. We have been told that all the kindergarten teachers at this school are great.

Today I was able to be there to drop him off at his first FULL day of school. There was a lot of whining beforehand of the “I don’t want to go to school.” “School is booooring.” “I want to stay home with you.”, etc. But I got his little butt out of the truck and we met up with his Dad, who wanted to be there for the milestone day. Not entirely sure why he bothered coming along as he basically stood off to the side with his nose in his phone, but whatever. Not my problem that he chose to not be overly involved. We walked to the outside door entrance to the classroom and sat down on the bench and chatted about all the exciting things he’s going to learn. I watched him as he carefully observed all of the other kids who are in his class. My son is very observant and is the kind of kid who will sit back and take a situation in before he jumps head first into it. So this is likely how he will go about carefully selecting new friends. Finally the bell went off and the kids all had to sit on a bench outside the classroom and wait for their teacher to come out. She came outside and was holding a fist full of yellow string. She had each of the kids give their parent a string and reminded them of the story they read yesterday. It was about the “invisible string” and that if a child gives a string to their parent, it then creates an invisible connection between the two of us even though mom or dad aren’t right there. Naturally Hunter didn’t want to take the string from the teacher and was acting shy. So the teacher gave me the string. I now have it tied to my keychain and sitting here on my desk at work. Reminding me of my sweet boy’s first big day at school. When it came to the teacher getting the kids to line up and get ready to enter the class she announced that she was going to walk all the kids through what they are going to do every morning with their bags and how to unpack them each day. She then asked that parents not come into the class this morning so she could get through this instruction. Understandable. But not understandable to my little boy who had visions in his head of showing the classroom to me. Cue the tears. He was the last in line to get his hand sanitizer and walk through the door of the classroom. He turned around and his teacher started to close the door. He burst into bigger tears and was saying “mommy don’t leave” repeatedly while stretching out his little hand to try to get me to hold it. I just kept saying “you’re going to do great and will have so much fun!” repeatedly while the teacher gently grabbed his hand and directed him into the classroom. As the door shut behind her all I could hear was him crying out for me. I peeked in the window and I saw her talking to him while he stood there sobbing and rubbing his eyes. Heart.breaking. My ex muttered something like “He’ll be fine. It’s par for the course.” and he started to walk off. I followed behind him as I had nothing to say to him. He obviously picked up on how upset I was and he reminded me of how well my son did on the first three days of school and how he’s a kid who has no problems making friends and that he will be perfectly fine. I mumbled back a “Yeah, I know. It still hurts the heart though.” and then we went our separate ways.

I got into my truck and started to drive to work and spent the entire 40 minute drive trying to fight back tears. My tears aren’t from being upset that he was crying. Rational me knows he was likely completely fine moments after the door closed and had the distraction of new classroom rules and direction. What is hard on my mama heart is that today marks the day where some of my biggest fears that came to surface the moment he was born, are now a possibility. I am terrified of the world that our kids are growing up in. It is scary and so unknown for me. With social media and cellphones it’s just fucking terrifying. My biggest fear for my son is that he will be bullied. I am straight up terrified of the possibility that my spirited, gentle, loving child’s soul can get crushed by a bully. I know I have resources and good friends who have had kids who have been bullied who I can lean on….but my spirit just can’t take being crushed because some child chooses to be mean to mine. I also am fearful that he will be excluded by other kids while trying to make friends. He has no issue making friends and literally makes them everywhere he goes….but it’s still an irrational, yet rational fear I have. I want my little boy to have a solid group of friends as he grows older. I know life isn’t perfect and friendships change constantly as we get older, even as adults, but I want him to be excited to go to school to see his friends. I want him to have kids to come to his birthday parties. I want him to have kids nearby that he can go outside and play with. And I’m so, so, so hopeful that I don’t have to one day soon have my little boy in tears because nobody wanted to play with him at school during recess. I understand both of these things are completely out of my control, and I can only do my best at caring for my son and supporting him. But I get so nervous about them happening to him and I will probably forever live in a little bit of fear over it.

Parenting is fucking hard. And the whole new roller coaster of emotions that come with a child starting school makes it even harder. I’m now counting down the minutes until I can get in my truck and drive back to the school and pick my little boy up. Hoping and keeping my fingers crossed that he had such a good day that he can’t wait to go back tomorrow!

The Big Five

My baby turned 5 years old yesterday. My heart is feeling all kinds of different emotions about it. On one hand I’m so proud of the awesome little guy that he’s becoming but on the other hand I’m so sad that my little boy is growing up so fast. Where does the time even go? I used to despise the cliche line that everyone tells you about how quickly they grow up but I now know that it’s not cliche….it’s truth. And every parent feels it.

The ex-husband and I arranged a birthday party for him at a local trampoline gym type of place in town. We booked the place out for 2 hours and invited some of his preschool friends as well as a few friends who he has made via his dad’s connections. The ex organized the cake and the pizza and I organized the snacks, drinks and some balloons. It was kept super simple. The kids showed up and excitement was at an all time high to get going jumping and climbing. My son had a few little meltdowns, as young kids do when they are over-stimulated and excited. But for the most part it was happy, happy little boy.

The birthday wasn’t just a milestone birthday for my son but in a way it was for me too. It was going to be the first time I would be in a room with my ex and his girlfriend who he has been with either before we split or right after we split. She and I still have zero relationship, despite efforts she has put out there. I have told her that I don’t want to meet for a coffee with her to get to know her a bit as I’m not ready for that. She has my phone number and has texted me on occasion regarding my son, who for some reason my ex was not with and she wasn’t able to get a hold of him. My responses are always straight to the point and not brimming with friendliness. I’m not a mean person….but I am still not prepared to make nice with the woman who I still believe my ex cheated on me with and who pursued a vulnerable, married man and is likely using him for his future successes. I won’t be outwardly mean to her, for the sake of my son, but I won’t pretend to be BFFs with her either. So being in the same room as her for two hours was not what I was wanting to do. I brought along my sister and a friend of mine as my support team because I wasn’t going to know any of the other parents at the party. There were a few instances where the girlfriend seemed almost foaming at the mouth at the opportunity to try to help me or speak to me. Again, I wasn’t rude in response, but I wasn’t giving off warm fuzzies over it. Once things were going inside we stayed mostly clear of each other. I think she got the hint that I didn’t need her help and eventually she backed off on the offering. It worked well for me. I’m not a bitch but I still have a lot of trauma regarding how I found out about my ex dating her so early on and his major, major lies he told me to my face and in our counselling sessions that he wasn’t involved with her. I’m still working through this trauma and basically ignoring what is going on in my head and making nice with her isn’t going to help me at all. If she intends to stick around then she can wait for me to process things at my own speed and she can be patient until I decide that I am ready to be more amicable with her.

The other thing that happened at the birthday party was me leaving there feeling SO incredibly happy I am not with my ex anymore. He did so many things in those two hours that reminded me of how much I chose to push aside and ignore in our marriage even though it bothered me. I watched him work the room, being loud and obnoxious talking to people. I saw him having his usual lack of self control with alcohol. I was irritated at how loud and annoying he was when speaking to our son. He likely thought it sounded like enthusiasm, but to me it just sounded like an obnoxious man. He was trying so hard to portray the supportive father role as well as the supportive co-parent role. It was as though he was trying to prove to the room that we are in a good place and that he can be that stand up guy who isn’t with his kid’s mom but “look how awesome our split family situation looks” kind of thing. The desperation was just spewing out of him. My son had his few little meltdowns and I was dealing with them and almost every time when I had him pulled aside to have a quiet chat, in my ex would swoop and get involved and be annoyingly talking to him about how he is not to yell at his mommy like that and how he has to listen to mommy. I’m standing there thinking “dude, fuck off…I had this and didn’t need you stepping in.” But it was all for show. He wanted people to see us acting as a team with our son. He wanted people to see that he’s a good dad…something of which he wasn’t for the first four years of his child’s life. He was trying to impress people. There were a few times where he would give me “the look”, as I call it now that we are no longer married. The look where I am going to do something and he doesn’t understand why or doesn’t think I should. I got this look when I told him that I was going to move to present opening time as it was nearing the end of the time we had the gym booked. I got the look when I was cleaning things up at the end and he thought the staff should do it and not us. That’s not the way I work. It’s the look that always made me retreat into myself and in order to avoid a disagreement, I would just back off. Not any more. He can give me that look all he wants and it doesn’t change what I am going to do. But there were moments where I would receive that look or he would speak to me in a certain way that would trigger me a little bit. Being in that room with him for two hours really solidified how much better my life is now that I am not with him. The annoying, boisterous, “big man on campus” act he was putting on….that is all his girlfriend’s thing to deal with now. The weight that he has of course put back on after losing a whole bunch when they first met (his usual weight loss/weight gain roller coaster that he does constantly) is all her thing to deal with now. The drinking and inability to control it…that’s her thing to deal with now. I might be single as fuck right now but I will take that and the loneliness over dealing with him. The best part about the two hours there was that my son was always asking for ME to come and watch him on the trampolines. He was asking ME for help with things. He came to ME for hugs when he was upset. Not his Dad. It’s not a competition, but it solidified the fact that I have been virtually the sole caregiver to our son up until our separation where his Dad was then forced into having to start parenting. And that despite for the last year his Dad having more of a role in this life….I’m still his #1 person. And I absolutely love that. And because I’m going to be a bitch for a moment….I hope his Dad noticed this and hurt a little for it.

I think the hardest part about the birthday was that it fell on a weekend where my son was with his Dad. I got to see him for a bit on Sunday morning, his actual birthday, and we hung out for about 45 minutes before they were going to do the day of fun that was planned. I almost think it would have been easier on my heart not seeing him at all, but of course that was never ever an option. We played with his new birthday remote controlled car on the boardwalk by his Dad’s condo building and had a snack together. His Dad left us alone to have that time together. When he eventually came back to round him up, it was quite possibly one of the most heart breaking things for me to watch my son walk away with his Dad, excited about the day they had planned…and I wasn’t part of it. He turned and waved at me multiple times as they walked. My heart hurt more and more until they turned the corner out of view. Not only was it my sweet boy’s big milestone birthday, but it is also a day of celebrating the fact that I grew him and carried him inside of me for 9+ months. It was a day to celebrate my body being cut open at the hospital and meeting him for the first time. So it kind of pissed me off that the man who has been absent in so many ways as a helpful and supportive father for the first four years of his son’s life, was getting to have this milestone day with him while I was going to get into my truck and go home and be alone. I didn’t cry though. I wouldn’t let myself cry. I felt the pain and sadness but I didn’t cry. I went home and put shorts and headphones on and then spent the entire day doing yard work. I went to Home Depot to buy a sprinkler to water my lawn and ended up walking out with some new plants and four new throw pillows for my outdoor furniture. Because this mama deserved a “Day of Birth” gift too. I went to the toy store and bought a couple things for my son for our birthday celebration that we are going to have this weekend with my immediate family. And then, when all of the yard work was more or less done, I sat on my sunny deck and had a glass of wine and relaxed.

My heart still hurts today about this all, but time moves forward and healing happens.

Every Day Is Different

I feel like, in the grand scheme of things, I’m doing pretty well with taking on life as a single mom. It’s been over a year now and consistent routine has been developed with child sharing. Flexibility on both sides has been shown on when we want to make any changes to the schedule in order to take our son away on a trip or go do something. My ex and I have both been open and honest about the harder days with our son and sympathy and understanding is starting to be shared. It isn’t perfect by any means, but in those areas of things, it is working well. Because these things are working well, it allows me to plan a bit more as well as embrace the fact that I’m doing this alone. It isn’t ever where I thought I would be in my life, but as time goes on I realize that it is doable.

Some days though…it’s hard as fuck. I can feel like an absolute rock star at this parenting thing one day and then the next day I can be sitting on my kitchen floor crying my face off because I’m struggling so much. This isn’t uncommon in the parenting world, even when you have a partner at home to help out with things. So imagine that but worse because there is no one there to swap in and out with when you’re on the cusp of losing it on your child. Because it’s just me around, my son sees all sides of me. I don’t have the luxury of calling out to his dad to ask him to come and deal with him because I’m about to say something I might regret. I don’t have the ability to step outside and take a little walk to calm down. Everything I do is in the moment. I can take deep breaths to lower my frustration, but the effectiveness of that is so minute that it almost seems pointless. The other day I needed him to go to bed at a decent hour because I really wanted and needed to get some exercise as well as get some cleaning done. But it was 9:30 by the time I finally got him down. The entire time while I was dealing with him the stresses of life kept piling up on top of me. The dishes hadn’t been done yet that day, laundry needed to be moved from washer to dryer, the bathrooms were filthy, the floors needed sweeping or vacuuming, there was food gone bad in the fridge, the dog hadn’t been fed dinner yet, the lawns needed mowing, I was slowly letting the plants in the gardens die, I had fruit flies starting to breed in my kitchen despite my efforts to eliminate attractants. It literally snowballed in my brain to the point that I burst into tears the moment I shut the bedroom door to my son. I then spent the next 20 minutes sitting on the kitchen floor sobbing quietly to myself while texting my mom and sister about how much I was struggling. Eventually I got up and managed to do some dishes and move the laundry, all still while crying. But it all became way too much all at once and I couldn’t pretend to be ok that night. I had to release.

While I sat there crying I thought about a lot of different things. But the one thing I thought about most is how much easier everything would be if I had a partner to tag off with. And when I realized that even if I did have a partner around, my son is my child and not his and I would likely still be bearing the brunt of most of the parenting work. At least for the first while as I learn how to incorporate parenting and dating together with a new man. So it then led me to wishing that I just simply had someone there who I could release to. Who I could get a hug from. Someone who can remind me that I’m doing a good job. Someone who can help out by doing a couple of the small jobs like dinner dishes while I’m taking care of getting my son to bed. Who can relieve some of the other things weighing me down because parenting comes first. I thought about how lucky other people have it by having incredibly involved partners and husbands. How they may be struggling with parenting but at least their struggle is alongside someone else who is supporting them. I cried because some days the loneliness is like a giant gaping hole inside of me that I wish I could fill.

But I know that the moments like this one are not the time for me to be reaching out to my phone to start swiping through dating apps, desperately trying to find someone to fill that hole. It is a pointless endeavor and a temporary band aid on my sad heart. Desperation is not the moment when any kind of relationship search should be happening. I resisted the urge to open up the dating apps in that moment. I decided to have a shower and then go to bed. I have learned that allowing myself to actually feel my emotions is incredibly important. I have spent my life bottling up all kinds of different emotions. I spent my marriage putting my own feelings on things aside in order to not rock the boat at all. This has clearly not worked out for me. So now, if I feel I need to cry…I let it out. I give myself time to release. I don’t rush myself through it and tell myself to “suck it up” and stop crying. I cry until I know that I’m ready to stop. The same can be said for anger. Although I don’t get angry often these days, if I feel I need to be angry then I allow myself to be. I work through these things instead of pushing them deep down while I plaster a smile on my face and pretend to be ok. I almost always feel infinitely better once I have released my emotions. It might not happen right away. I might spend a full day wallowing in self pity, but eventually it fades out and I find myself laughing and smiling again.

Sure the loneliness is still there. And yes, I do feel ready to bring a partner into my life. The extent of how involved I want that partner to be in the entirety of my life is still to be determined, but I would love to at least have someone that I can date and see when I don’t have my son. Someone to add some “spice” to the mundane life I’m living these days. I don’t know how great I feel about trying to date in the Covid world we are in, so I need to figure that out. All I know is that lately my most common complaint is that I’m lonely and craving hugs or cuddles and it would be really nice to do something about that.

These moments come in waves. Sometimes they are just a little ripple on the shore but other times they are like a giant tsunami that overtakes everything. It is becoming all about breaking it down piece by piece, understanding it, allowing myself to feel it, and then processing how to move forward. I’ll get there. I know I will!

Unexpected Friend

I live a relatively introverted life in a lot of ways. I don’t have a huge pile of friends, but I have a handful of close friends. I don’t go out a ton and socialize because most of the time when I don’t have my son with me, all I want to do is relax. I usually end up lamenting the fact that I had no social time after the fact, but I never really seem to learn from it. I text message friends and family and stay in touch. I don’t totally disappear into myself. I spend all day at work talking to the public on the phone and I socialize with my co-workers. If you ask any of my colleagues if they would consider me to be an introvert or an extrovert, all of them would probably say I’m more extroverted. I fake it well around work. They would actually be quite surprised to find that in my own personal life I am a lot more reserved and introverted.

Because of having this type of personality it has affected my ability to make new friends in the town I live in. I have been invited a few times to a few large gatherings of moms in town and each time I have found a reason not to go. A loud, crowded room is not the place for me to try to make a connection with a new friend. I snowmobile and I have gone on a few group rides with other women and I often have found myself on the outside looking in at all of these brave, bad ass women who have no issue with bantering and making new friends with other riders, while I struggle to even think of a subject to talk about. It’s lonely, but a silver lining to it is that I have learned a lot about myself over time. The one thing I have learned is that I connect better with women who are socially confident and have no filter. It is like I feed off of their energy and it allows me to come out of my shell a bit. This is no different than what I now look for in the dating world. If a man states on his dating profile that he is introverted, I know immediately that we likely won’t be a great match as I almost need to have a man who will bring energy and socialization into my life. I want a man who will come to my family gatherings and not shyly sit back but instead engage in conversation with my loved ones. Since discovering this about myself I have watched over and over again how accurate it actually is. Self discovery is an amazing thing.

Enter a new person in my life who I will call Sarah. I go to a specialized personal training gym twice a week and work with a trainer one on one. One day I was in the change room and this bright eyed, blonde, Australian girl came in and immediately started chatting away while getting virtually buck naked in front of me. She clearly had a lot of confidence and energy. While I carefully averted my eyes from her standing there with her top off, yapping away, I continued chatting with her a bit before we had to go workout. This became the tradition every Monday for a few weeks. Then one day the owner of the gym emailed both me and Sarah and suggested that we would be a really good fit for doing a “doubles” session since we were both after the same goals. We both agreed to it and the following week we started the doubles sessions. There was a friendship connection there almost immediately.

Naturally once we had each other’s phone numbers the friendship flowed out of the gym and into regular life. Texting started happening and from there she started to let me know when she and her boyfriend were in the town I live in for rock climbing and asking if I want to meet up for dinner. Her timing was always terrible and I was never able to meet. A lot of people, when they receive a “no” response from someone consistently, eventually they give up. But Sarah, she wouldn’t take no for an answer and she kept persisting. As only a short period of time rolled on we were able to hang and got to know each other a bit more. It moved along to me helping her and her boyfriend store some furniture in my garage and using my truck to transport it for them. Then she started regularly sending check in type messages to me as though she had this sixth sense that knew when I was having a rough day. She would always offer to call or come see me if I felt lonely or didn’t want to be alone. One day I got a bad migraine and I had no one available to watch my son, so I desperately called her and she drove 45 minutes to my town to come and watch my son so I could lie down with my migraine. She learned about my giant crush that I have on my Tuesday night trainer at the gym and she created a group chat between the three of us and now we all message all the time through it. She only did that so I would have an excuse to talk to my trainer outside of the gym. She stirs some shit up in there that I don’t know if he realizes what she’s doing, but I certainly do! She has learned my personality faster than anyone and knows that I don’t like to ask for help…ever. So she finds ways to work around it. She is readily available with compliments when needed and gives them without being asked. She knows all about my separation and hates on my ex’s girlfriend with me and the other day she said she thinks I’m way prettier than the girlfriend. She doesn’t even know it but she is building up a lot of broken parts in me just simply by stepping up to the friendship plate and doing an amazing job at it. I truly only have one other friend in my life who is my biggest support, and that is my twin sister. But having Sarah come into my life has meant that I have two people that I know I can lean on unconditionally.

The biggest moment where I knew that Sarah is a special friend who I need to hold on to was on my birthday. She needed the furniture I had been storing for them and was persistent in the fact that she needed it brought to them that day. I tried to push it to the next day as I had my son and I didn’t really want to deliver furniture in the rain but she would have nothing to do with it. I got the furniture to her and her boyfriend and we decided since the rain was letting up that we would take my son for a play in the nearby park. She said we needed to go through the parking garage of their apartment building. I walked out ahead of them and got the biggest shock of a group of friends and trainers from my gym jumping out from behind the stairs yelling “SURPRISE!!” while holding flowers and cards for me. If I hadn’t been so shocked I probably would have cried. Literally no one, not even my ex husband, ever took the time to arrange any kind of surprise gathering for me. I found out that Sarah had tracked down my sister’s contact information and had been scheming with her to make it all work. And then she had a few of the others throw me off the scent by sending me messages asking me to do things they knew I wouldn’t be able to do because I had my son with me. We had some cake and enjoyed a nice socially distanced birthday celebration in a parking garage. And it was all organized by someone who had only known me a few months.

Since then we have hung out a bunch and never run out of things to talk about. I give her advice that she eagerly takes on board and she gives me advice or a boost when I need it.

I have always been a believer that the right people come into our lives when we need them the most, but I have always thought of it in more so the form of an actual relationship, not friendship. Friendships have never been easy for me to just start up so the fact that Sarah came along and, as she said, “forced her friendship” on me, I think she appeared at the right time for the reason of me needing more support in my life beyond my sister, who I’m sure is growing tired of some of my crap! Divorce/separation is an incredibly lonely time for most people, especially if they don’t have a good amount of friends around to sit and release to. But I am incredibly thankful for the firecracker that is Sarah to have entered into my life and brought some sun and humour to what can sometimes be the darkest days.

Back At It

I took a fairly long break from writing about anything on here. In fact, I wasn’t even coming on here to read any words written by others either. Life continued on and the desire to write anything seemed to dissipate along with it. But I now realize how much writing out my thoughts regularly is actually quite therapeutic even if no one else is reading them but me. And that’s ok.

Since I closed this down and stopped writing, I hit multiple milestones in my new life as a single mother. The first big one was what would have been our wedding anniversary. We would have celebrated six years married. My mom was considerate of how tough that weekend would be for me and she bought tickets to a concert for all of us (mom, dad, sister, brother, their partners) so I took a road trip and visited them for it. I spent a lot of the time there trying to not explode into tears at any given moment. We went out for dinner before the concert and I sat quietly at the table, miserable over the fact that I was the only one there without a partner in my life. I felt like I stuck out like a sore thumb because I didn’t have someone sitting next to me. I wished more than anything in the world to have someone to just glance over at and smile with.

The next milestone was the first Christmas without my husband around. I tried my best to follow some of the customs in order to keep my son happy and excited about the upcoming visit from Santa. I put up a tree and decorated the house. My dad so kindly strung lights on the bushes in front of my house. I shopped for gifts from Santa for my son. My ex and I have an agreement at this point that we will alternate Christmases with our son, so last Christmas I had him. We went over to where my parents live and spent Christmas with my parents, siblings, their partners and my son’s one cousin. By all intents and purposes it was a fine time. I put a brave face on even though inside my heart was hurting a lot.

The next milestone was Valentines Day. I’ve never been a fan of the day, even when married. But more than anything this year I wished I had even the option of choosing to celebrate the day or not. But there was no option. There was just being alone. I am thankful that my son’s preschool made little gifts for the parents and that they understand that my son comes from a split home and he was given extra time to make two Valentine’s Day gifts for each parent. I got to celebrate the day with him by going through his little paper bag that had adorable Valentine’s Day cards in it all from his little friends. We sat and pulled out one at a time and I read them to him and he excitedly talked about the pictures.

And the next milestone was Mother’s Day. Fuck, that was a hard one. Mother’s day 2019 was basically the day when my ex husband told me he couldn’t “do this” anymore and said that he thought our marriage was done. I spent the day in bed crying and feeling pain like I never have before. I vowed that Mother’s Day 2020 was going to be way better. It wasn’t. I got a migraine around 11:00 in the morning and had to call my ex husband to ask him to come and pick up our son earlier than scheduled. I had a few hours with my son on Mother’s Day and then he left. We had a really good day together the day before so I have chosen to focus on that being Mother’s Day and not the actual calendar day being Mother’s Day.

Not only was Valentine’s Day a hard one, but it was also the day that we accepted a very generous offer on the sale of our house. I knew the day would come that I would have to move out of it as it was way too big for just me and my son being there part time. The house wasn’t on the market but there were very motivated buyers who loved it. I negotiated with our realtor having a very long closing date on it so I could find somewhere to move as well as purge and pack an entire house on my own. That brings us to the next milestone….the day I moved out of the house and into a smaller rental, while I wait to see what will happen with the Canadian housing market when the second Covid-19 wave comes through. June 8th I moved out of the house. I think I had so much time to wrap my head around leaving and so much time to build up excitement over having my own space to create new memories in, that the move out wasn’t as hard emotionally as I thought it would be. I thought I would cry as I closed the door to the house that one last time, but I didn’t. I held my head up high, walked out to my truck and drove down the street without even looking in the rear view mirror. I am proud of myself for that.

All in all, I have come a very long way in my journey into the life I never, ever expected myself to be in. I have accepted that the marriage is over and that in many, many ways I am way better off for it. My ex and I have more or less found a decent place in regards to our co-parenting situation. It is still awkward in many ways, but we are fighting less and working as a team more. It’s still not perfect, but I don’t think any co-parenting situation this early after a separation ever is. I still have my fears and concerns that he’s not telling me the full truth about everything going on in his life financially. We still don’t have a formal separation agreement signed, despite me pushing for it over and over again. I will keep pushing for those things.

My biggest struggle right now is loneliness. With Covid-19 hitting full force and isolation and social distancing being in place since early March, I’m beginning to feel the effects of it. I have worked every day since it started so I am lucky to be someone who still has held on to my job. But it’s exhausting with basically my life being going to work, parenting, going to work, parenting, etc, etc, etc. I already struggle because I don’t really have any friends in the town I live in thanks to me working in the city and having to commute every day and then there being nothing going on in the evenings to try to make friends. So tie in with that Covid-19 where everyone reduced their “bubble” size to only their family and that has left me very isolated. Of course I facetime family and have texted friends. But it doesn’t make up for actual in person interaction. My gym closed so I lost even those few days a week where I got to be social with my trainers and other people at the gym. So the loneliness has hit hard. In January and a bit of February I dated a man who lived in the city and we had some fun times going on dates when we were both kid-free. We even went away for a weekend together, which he promptly dumped me after. I knew in my heart that he wasn’t the right fit but I guess my loneliness was trying to convince me otherwise. What hurt most about the dumping (if you can call it that as we never were actually anything “official”) was that in the phone call he raved about what an amazing person I am but he just wasn’t feeling it. ie: he wasn’t attracted to me. It feels pretty shitty to hear from someone that you have such a great personality, but you’re not attractive. My self esteem took a nose dive then. I took a few months to focus on myself and I removed the dating apps from my phone. Eventually I put them back on and started the painful endeavor of dating again. I went on only one socially distanced date with a guy who was lovely and sweet, but there was nothing there for me. He asked me on a second date and I had to let him down gently. A while later I received a message from a guy that immediately made me smile and laugh. It quickly resulted in us messaging constantly for days. But the only downside was that he lived not only in a different town, but also a ferry ride away too. But the connection was starting to form as we moved from texting to phone calls. I won’t get hugely into it, but his life wasn’t a walk in the park. He has been through a lot. But despite that all he was so positive and encouraging and amazing. Stuff kept happening that made it difficult to arrange a meet up time. I won’t go into that either. But we spent three months talking daily to one another. It was getting to the point where I was feeling feelings that I haven’t felt in a long time. And we hadn’t even met. He felt the same way. But recently, in the last 2-ish weeks, his life has taken a not so great turn with illness and some other stuff going on and basically last night he messaged me saying that he thinks it will be the best for me to forget him and walk away. He said that his life has been and always will be a challenge and that while he is numb to it and can push through it, he said it isn’t fair for him to bring me into it and for me to have to endure what he does. He said by telling me to walk away, he is protecting me from a life he thinks I don’t deserve. He said that I am one of the most incredible people he has ever met and that I deserve the world and that tying myself to him would drag me down and put strain that I don’t deserve on me. Anyone reading this might be confused about all of this because you don’t know the backstory to it all. But I’m not going to blast everything about him on here. It’s his story to tell…not mine. Needless to say, I’m pretty heart broken today. I tried to argue back with him saying that it isn’t his choice on what I can and can’t endure in my life. And it’s not his job to protect me when he doesn’t know what I am capable of handling. I tried to tell him that contrary to what he believes about his life, he does deserve to have the support and kindness of someone and that he can’t spend his life pushing people away because he doesn’t think they can handle when his life turns upside down. But I think he’s gone now. I cried myself to sleep last night. I have spent the better part of the last three months learning about him, sharing things about me, creating a connection that was apparently stronger than I even knew. And now I’m expected to just walk away and pretend that he never came into my life. Pretend that I didn’t start to see the possibility of a really great future with him. Go back to the dating apps and somehow try to put myself out there again. My heart is struggling and I obviously need to give it time to let it heal before I do actually try to meet anyone.

I feel that in many ways I am ready to bring someone into my life. I have my home more or less set up. I have found acceptance in the fact that my marriage ended. Mentally (prior to what I just wrote about above) I am in a pretty good spot. Physically I’m getting back on track to taking more care of my body. It’s just the loneliness that is crippling sometimes. I feel like I am surrounded by people who have someone. Sure, they want to strangle their partners on any given day, but I don’t think they know how lucky they are to have a partner who is sticking around despite those hard moments. They don’t have to experience life as a single mother. I already have being a curvy woman in an incredibly active and fit town working against me in many ways, but I also have the fact that I have a child as part of the challenge too. Having a child immediately decreases the amount of “fish in the sea” to choose from because a lot of men don’t want the burden of someone who has a child around. Go through the dating apps and it’s amazing how many people talk about going on sporadic adventures, road trips, and basically things that you can’t do when you are a single mother. Men who have kids already may be into someone who has one child herself, but it is added complication when schedules can’t align due to child custody agreements. And I’m not even entirely sure how much I want to date someone who has kids, given that I have always been a “one and done” person when it comes to children in my life. So my “sea” is looking more like a pond than anything. Add in the fact that I have an attraction to men who are ambitious and driven so that shallows out my pond even more because I live in a small town full of people who are getting by just enough so they can go mountain bike or rock climb. My pond is not what I would like it to be. But I’m not rushing to bring the wrong person into my life. I’m not interested in ignoring my gut when it comes to someone and forcing them to fit, only because I’m lonely and am screaming out for physical touch and someone to laugh with. But….fuck….this loneliness is crippling me some days. It sends me into a pretty big downward spiral, especially when I see other people in love, doing things with their partners. It gets even worse when I think of my ex, who destroyed my world by leaving and not working on our marriage, even has someone in his life. I deserve it more than he does…but here he is….taking summer vacations with her and her family, going out on dates and giving her the life I think I deserve. Not with him…but with someone else. It’s just hard to stomach the fact that the person who caused so much pain in my life is so moved on and has the support of someone every day. Meanwhile there are days where I’m feeling like I’m drowning with having no support or help around.

Separation/divorce is hard. It’s incredibly isolating and lonely. Sure it is great to have family around, but without them having gone through it themselves, it is hard for them to even know what to say or how to support me through the struggle moments. They try their best and I will forever appreciate that. But there are days where all I need is a really big, long hug. To be held while I just let it all out. I take the good days with the bad days. They are all learning experiences. If I can’t fathom getting through an entire day, I take it hour by hour until eventually the day is done and I can focus on the next day being a better one. I can’t control it all, but what I can control, I will try my hardest on.

This ended up being much more long winded than I had intended. Apparently I needed a release. I don’t feel much better by doing it, but I’m sure deep down it has somehow helped. So…here’s to hopefully taking more time to write and hopefully not all of it will be doom and gloom seeming.

The Outside Looking In

On the weekend our town had the annual Santa Claus parade and pretty much every single family in our small town lined the downtown street to see the floats and lights. I brought my son along to it and we bundled up in warm clothes, brought comfy chairs to sit on, had some snacks and treats and we got ourselves set up in a prime location. My son was buzzing with excitement because he knew that Santa would be at the end of the parade. And what was even more exciting was that he knew that his dad was driving the truck that was pulling santa and his sleigh. How cool is that for a four year old?! The parade itself was a pretty standard small town parade. Lots of business vehicles that tossed some lights on and called it a float, some floats that were well thought out, and some that just stood out more than others. My son was having a great time and there were only a few hiccups where he kept getting missed by the people handing out candy canes and he got upset by it. But a little girl near us heard him saying he wanted a candy cane too and she so kindly gave us not only a candy cane but the biggest one she had received. That is small town kindness for you. It made my son’s night even though after a few licks he decided he didn’t like candy canes. That’s four year olds for you.

But as the parade carried on and we started to see Santa’s sleigh getting near, I worked to get my son pumped up to see not only Santa but see his dad having the big job of pulling the sleigh. My son was practically vibrating off the ground he was so buzzed about it all. It was adorable. But as my ex-husband’s truck started approaching where we were standing, and I was eagerly getting our son to wave to his dad, my heart sank. Actually, scratch that, my heart crumbled into more pieces than it already has since our separation. My ex-husband failed to give me a heads up that his new girlfriend, the one he started seeing within 2-3 weeks of him officially leaving me (which I still feel confident isn’t the whole truth), was going to be in the passenger seat of the truck. While I stood on the road, trying to pretend that I wasn’t as hurt as I was and trying to get my son excited about seeing his dad, she sat in the passenger seat smiling away like a happy pig in shit.

All I could think of was that she was looking out at me, thinking in her head “that’s right bitch. I have it all now and look at you standing out there in the cold.” Maybe it’s irrational of me to think that, but I, among many other people, strongly believe that she is using my ex-husband for status and money. She is known around town for doing whatever she can to get ahead in life. My ex-husband, if all goes to plan with his business, could one day be making millions upon millions of dollars and have his name splashed all over the industry he works in. To anyone who wants a life of financial comfort, he is basically a diamond of a find. And what hurts about that is that it has been me that has supported his growth in his career, while making sacrifices for our family and even our marriage so he could work his ass off to get himself into a position of financial wealth. So I did the hard yards, got kicked to the curb, and she is now reaping the rewards. Little does she know how fucked up mentally he is.

But the hardest part about the whole parade situation was, as she smiled out of the seat in the truck that used to be mine….the one I sat in for road trips, smiling at my husband as we chatted on the drives or as we went out and did things as a family, was that I felt like I was an outsider looking in to the life that I once knew. To better describe it, I compare the feeling to that claw game that you see in some stores, where the giant claw comes down and you have to try to grab a stuffed animal or toy with it and then drop it down a chute so you can claim your prize. While I stood there I felt like a giant claw had come down, plucked me out of the seat of the truck, removed me, placed me on to the street then picked her up and placed her right in my former spot and everything just carried on as normal in his and her life.

I know that when marriages end and new relationships start that ultimately the former spouse is “replaced” by the new person. My ex-husband has literally done exactly that. He is still doing everything that we did together. Eating out at the same places, going on the same adventures, staying at the nice hotels, cooking nice big dinners for groups of friends, etc, etc. The only difference is the face standing beside him with all of this is no longer me, it is her. He has literally plucked me out and plunked her in. He took no time at all to end our marriage and fit someone new into his life. I have been left feeling as though I wasn’t even worth mourning over after he decided to walk away. That the 8 years we had together was that easy to just move on from.

I know that karma is going to come back and bite him in the ass for not taking the time to properly work through his many issues and instead trying to sort of glaze over them by putting a new woman in his life. I think he is going to realize that jumping from one failed relationship into another one which he has admittedly told me he hasn’t allowed himself to open up in, is going to leave him in a really shitty place. And I want to shake him and tell him that he is fucking up his life by pretending everything is ok to the outside world but to a select few, including me, admitting the truth to. He is a ticking time bomb that is either going to explode or will just end up with him spending more years with “her” and hiding the real truth of his mental struggles and issues and eventually leading to another break down in relationship. And it isn’t my place to say any of this. Because while I care about his well-being, I don’t give two shits about her and what he does to her. She is not a good human being and she deserves whatever it is that is coming eventually. Watch…now that I’ve said this they are probably going to move on and be happily ever after while I sit here and bitterly eat my own words.

So, needless to say, this brief 30 seconds of the parade completely destroyed the rest of my evening as well as my Sunday with my son. I cried…a lot. I compared myself to her by saying she’s prettier, skinnier, etc, etc. I turned my mental space into feeling like I was a piece of rejected garbage. I hit such a low point because of those 30 seconds, that my ability to handle my son’s typical 4 year old stubborn moments was non-existent and I snapped at him constantly. I let those 30 seconds ruin the few moments I had with my son before he went to his dad’s place for a few days. I was consumed by those 30 seconds.

I still am pretty hurt and triggered by that parade moment. I have told my ex-husband to only message me if it is something important I need to know regarding our son. I have told him I don’t want to hear from him otherwise. I need a breather from him as these last few weeks our messaging has increased again and he has started to use me as his shoulder for tough moments or even for his happy moments (like hitting goals with his company). I can’t continue to be that person and know that he is having me in his life for that while later in the evening or on the days he doesn’t have our son, going and spending time with “her” and giving her the happy and affectionate version of himself. He doesn’t get that part of me right now. Maybe one day when I find myself in a stronger emotional position he can have that part back as a “friend”, but I can’t keep giving that when the return for it is me getting crushed by pictures he posts with her or our son talking about things they all have done together, or seeing the two of them together. One day, if they stay together long term, I am going to have no choice but to accept that she is a solid part of his life and my son’s life and I will have to find it somewhere from deep within me to forget the moments of right now and attempt to be amicable with her for the sake of my son. I don’t know when that will be, and I honestly hope it won’t be any time soon as right now it is easiest for me to block the idea of her out of my world while I work hard on my own happiness.

Life Update

It is hard to believe that I’ve now been a single parent for six months. Half a year. It is actually crazy to think about how much time has passed. In a lot of ways it has been a big adjustment, but in some other ways it has been surprisingly smooth sailing.

The parts that have been smooth sailing have mainly been the care for my little boy. Because for the last year prior to my husband leaving, he was absent in a lot of ways, physically and mentally, as a parent. So I took care of a lot of the day to day work for our son. Bath times, lunch packing, food cooking, cleaning up, entertaining, clothes purchasing, bedtimes, you name it, I did it and had minimal options of having someone back me up. So when my son is with me on my days, it’s basically business as usual. I still conquer all of those things. The only time where I feel the absence of a partner is when I’m not feeling well or when my son has pushed me to the edge in a way that only a 4 year old can, and I sit and wish to have someone to “tap in/out” with before I say or do something I will regret. Thankfully those times are few and far between. Most days I feel like I’m rocking being a single mom. I am scheduling like a boss, planning ahead, entertaining, getting my son starting to help with chores, teaching him independence, breaking the rules when necessary and also keeping firm on the rules when needed.

What has made it easiest is having a little boy who is incredibly adaptable. He has shown how adaptable he is from day 1 of taking him on his first trip at only 2 months old. My son has taken to this change in life with relative ease. We were warned that when he started the new routine of going back and forth between our two homes that he may start to act out or get angry or upset when it came time for the swap. We were told that the first few days of being with the new parent that he could be difficult and stubborn. But that hasn’t been the case. He now will ask me how many sleeps he has with me or if it’s a mommy weekend or a daddy weekend coming up. And when he gets his answer he simply just nods and carries on talking about something else. I won’t lie though, on Sundays when it is time for him to finish up a weekend with me and go with his dad at 6:00 on Sunday, those hand overs are not easy. He always very happily leaves his dad to come to me, but the other way around isn’t as simple. He will cling to me and say he doesn’t want to go. He will cry and try to hide somewhere in the house. He will insist on having endless tight hugs. It isn’t easy on any of us. We have tried different ways of doing the hand over. We have done it at my house, we have tried me dropping him off at the apartment, we have attempted meeting at a playground (neutral ground) and we have tried to meet outside his favourite restaurant so he can go for his weekly ritual sunday dinner with his dad. Every.single.one results in me down on my knees on the ground and him clinging to me with his arms wrapped around my neck and him sobbing about not wanting to go. It has nothing to do with him not having fun with his dad or his dad being a horrible person to him. It just has to do with the fact that he is a mama’s boy through and through and has been since day 1. And even if we have a rougher than usual weekend, he still wants to be with his mom. And while I feel bad for my ex-husband having to hear his son saying that he doesn’t want to leave, it secretly makes my heart happy that I’m still clearly the preferred parent. Of course, once he goes with his dad, he’s always fine within a couple minutes and is back to his normal happy self. So that is why we try not to stress too much about this once every two weeks difficult hand-over.

As for me and how I’m doing. Well every day is different. I can feel confident and happy being alone and mostly in control of my own life one day and then the next day I’m down at rock bottom where I am fighting tears all day long, mourning the loss of my marriage, family and future. Sometimes the harder days will stretch into 2 or 3 days of misery. I have been doing a fair amount of reading relating to grief. Specifically grief relating to a marriage ending. A lot of specialists say that far too many of us try to spend our time distracting ourselves from the pain and not actually allowing ourselves to truly feel the emotions that come with it. And that it is actually truly healthier to let the emotions of the hard days consume me. To not push them aside but to instead learn to feel them, understand them and then work through them. By distracting myself from them I’m not actually focusing on working through the hurt or the loneliness. I’m just shoving it aside for another day for it to come crashing down on me. That isn’t progress. So for the last few weeks I have been letting myself feel whatever emotion is happening for the day. Some days it really sucks because I want to feel anything but miserable. But those days make me appreciate the days where I am in a better head space.

Because of my realization that I need to work on my own mental health, I chose to end things with the guy that I had been dating for about two months. As wonderful as a human being as he was, I realized that my heart was not truly, truly into it. There were many things about him that made him an ideal partner. But he became too intense, much too quick for me. I thought it was what I wanted and I thought it was making me happy. But over time I realized that I was just keeping him close in order to distract myself or fill a void that was missing. That I actually felt anxiety every time he would mention he loved me (which came on much too soon for my liking) and I knew, deep in my heart, that I didn’t and likely wouldn’t feel the same way. Little things he did started to annoy me and I found myself pushing him away more and more. It was when I lied to him about having a migraine in order to not have to hang out one evening was when I realized that it wasn’t the right relationship for me and I needed to end it before his heart got even more invested. There were also other things about him that I realized I was compromising on just simply in order to have a man around. He wasn’t as manly as I prefer a partner to be. He was gentle, kind, sweet, which was wonderful, but he wasn’t someone I could go camping with in the back country or do repairs around the house and didn’t carry a masculine confidence about him. Physically I stopped being attracted to him as he was quite thin, but with a bit of a potbelly, and zero muscle to him. I find it a little unattractive when I am stronger than the man I am dating. I typically prefer men to be burlier than he was. I’m not against tall and thin, but I don’t want to feel like I’m going to break the guy I’m seeing. So, in the end, I realized I was compromising too much of myself in order to have a relationship with him. I stopped caring for my own mental health in the time he was around and that was the biggest thing. He was another distraction. While he allowed me to feel my low days, I also felt (not by him) pressured to push them aside so I could be more fun when he was around. That shit isn’t healthy at all. I do not regret those two months spent with him one bit. He was the perfect person to bring into my life to make me feel comfort, kindness, affection and happiness again. He allowed me to be able to trust and know that there ARE decent men out there and that I’m not completely ruined because I am now a single mother.

So…I’m back to being single again. And it’s pretty lonely. I don’t have any friends in the town I live in and everyone I know live just too far away for a drive to go out for dinner or hang out. The weekends I don’t have my son with me can get a little depressing because of that. I spend a lot of time sitting on my couch drinking a glass of wine alone and watching back to back episodes of Friends while telling myself that I should be being productive and also fighting the desire to eat everything bad. I already promised myself that this Saturday I am going to get OUT of the house and take my book somewhere and have a glass of wine and read. Even if it’s still essentially the same thing that I would be doing at home, at least I will be out and around other people. I need to meet some other women in town but I’m not even entirely sure how to. So not only am I keeping an eye out for a future man, I’m also having to try to keep an eye out for future new friends.

The one thing I have been failing at the most though is my own physical health. I have gained back the 12 pounds that I had lost because I have been eating like garbage and not exercising enough. I keep telling myself that this week will be the week that I get back on track, but then the weekends hit and it’s a downward spiral. So instead of trying to go all in all at once, each week I’m implementing small little changes in hopes that they will eventually amount to a bigger change. And I truthfully looked into hypnosis to try to help with my emotional eating I do but crossed that option off my list as it’s super expensive and truthfully ridiculous seeming! I have to deal with this shit on my own.

As for the house that I’m still living in. We were all full speed ahead with preparing the house to sell it. I was working my tail off decluttering and organizing inside the house and unloading a lot of stuff to the thrift store in town. My ex husband came and emptied a ton of stuff out of the garage which allowed me to get it set up really nicely with my ATV and snowmobile nicely tucked away inside and then plenty of space for me to create a workout area with my weights and spin bike. There is still some organization that needs to happen inside the house but the biggest jobs are the three my ex has to take care of and they are yard work in the back yard, completing the unfinished driveway and ripping up the incomplete back deck. He has seemed to stall out on his part of things and he has stopped asking me or pushing me for timelines on what I think I can get done. The original plan was to get the place on the market for the Fall, but we are now heading into the end of November and the place is nowhere near ready. So I don’t know what the plan is. And…honestly…I’m not pushing it because a big part of me dreads having to spend every day cleaning the house to ensure it is continuously ready for potential showings. Not only that, but it means that I will have to start the full-time job of house hunting for myself which, in my little town, is an almost impossible task given that every house in my price range is being sold even before it has a For Sale sign up in the yard. It is all pretty stressful and I know it is my inevitable future but for the moment I’m just going to stick my head under a rock and pretend it doesn’t have to happen quite yet.

So that’s that. Life has carried on. Sometimes good and sometimes bad. But I’m trucking along as best as I can.

“Man Up”

Back in March, before my marriage ended, my (ex) husband, son and I loaded our ATVs up on the trailer and we met up with friends of my (ex) husband so we could head up the mountain for a ride. It was a gorgeous day and perfect for our first ATV trip of the season. We pulled up at the spot, unloaded our quads, geared up and headed off into the trails. It was a great ride with a little snow to work through. We stopped for a little breather and lunch at a place right by the river. My son took a shining to the male friend of my (ex) husband and was hauling him around to throw rocks into the river. At one point he decided he wanted to go really far from where we had parked, so he asked the friend to come along with him. I wasn’t worried. I could still see where they were going and took it as an opportunity to relax and get a break. Eventually we all got back on our quads and continued up to the spot that was our final destination. Once we got there we got off our quads and sat down for awhile to enjoy the beautiful view. My son naturally started to get tired as it was a long day of riding at that point and he had eaten all of his food but was still hungry. He got whiny then the whining turned into crying and a couple tantrums…as every 3 year old would in that situation. I was trying to get his helmet back on him and get him to get back on the ATV so we could head back home but he wasn’t having any of it.

It was then, at this exact moment where I decided that I did not like the man who I had allowed my son to go off with at the river. This man, who I barely know and who does not have kids of his own, came over to my son, crouched down to his level and calmly started talking to him. I thought this was fine as it was a distraction for him. But then he said this line which will forever be ingrained in my memory because it made my blood boil in seconds….

“Remember what we talked about by the river? How you need to man up and stop crying.”

Blood.fucking.boiling.

I immediately turned to my (ex) husband to see if he heard it, and he clearly hadn’t as he was busy packing up our stuff into the box on his ATV. I looked back over to my little boy who was now standing there with tears streaming down his face, wiping away at them and nodding “yes” to this man. I stomped over to them and shoved myself between him and the man, picked him up and took him over to where my ATV was parked. I then very quietly had a talk with him about how it’s ok to show his emotions and work through them. All the while my hands were shaking with rage over the choice of words this man chose to use in an attempt to “parent” my son.

We got home and eventually got our son to bed and then when we climbed into bed I took a few minutes to figure out how to approach the subject with my (ex) husband. Eventually I took a deep breath and told him about what had happened and how it made me feel. He listened to my side of it and my reasoning behind why I hate the “man up” line and then responded. I was a little shocked when his response basically was neutral to the situation. Where he said that his friend had no right to try to parent our son, but at the same time he felt as though I was overreacting to something that is just a saying. He asked me if I wanted him to talk to his friend about it, but I was too surprised by the lack of him siding with me that I shook my head no and then went to sleep. In the months following that moment I brought it up again with him and after some further discussion he became more on my “side” regarding the situation and the use of that phrase. I don’t know why he couldn’t do it from the start, but that’s besides the point.

I was not raised in a family where men were encouraged to show their emotions. But they also weren’t discouraged from it. We just never really talked about it. The boys of my family just all happen to be more in tune with their emotional side which I guess comes natural from genetics. So the whole “boys will be boys” or “man up” culture that a lot of guys my age were raised in wasn’t really part of my vocabulary back then…or now. Now that I am raising a little boy in a very different world than what I was raised in, I try to keep up to speed on what can negatively affect my son and what I need to do in order to talk to him about certain things that could hurt, upset or close him off. We see a lot of information everywhere on the internet about how to raise strong, opinionated, successful girls. Articles about how to teach our daughters how to be respected are everywhere. But finding stuff about raising an emotionally connected son isn’t out there or in our faces as much. It feels to me as though the two types of learnings for raising well respected girls and also raising emotionally connected boys go hand in hand. I will devour any information I can find on raising strong, emotional boys because I believe that in every person there is a perfect balance of standing up for what we believe in or holding our ground when we know we have been taken advantage of and also being able to show true empathy, kindness and sad emotion. Despite our marriage not working out, this is an area of parenting that my ex husband and I both agree strongly on.

My goals for raising my son are for the future teenager and adult he will become. In high school I don’t want him to be the bully…but I also don’t want him to be the bullied. I want him to be the strong boy who stands up for and supports the bullied. I don’t want him to be the teenager making crass remarks about girls who have bigger chests or may be heavier in size. I want him to be the one who finds beauty in all types and can speak respectfully about that beauty. As an adult I want him to be a go-getter for his career. I want him to drive his own path to his success (whatever that may be). But I also want him to be the family man who knows that in order to run a happy household and be a good husband and father that he needs to respect his wife/husband and come home and help out and listen to anything she/he has to say even if he feels it’s mundane. I want him to be able to open up to future partners even when he feels vulnerable. But then I want him to stand strong and opinionated when the time is right. And all of these things that I want for him do not involve the use of the phrase “man up” or any other phrase that encourages boys and men to shove their feelings and emotions deep, deep down and be what society expects them to be.

It is clearly evident that the use of two words from a relative stranger 6 months ago have really, really struck a nerve with me. I do not want my son around anyone who projects that kind of attitude on him. I am lucky that this man that said it is not someone my son sees often so he is not someone who will create any influence whatsoever on his little growing brain. So because of this, I have tried to let it go. But sometimes something triggers my memory of the moment and I end up on a tangent about it and need to release it all one more time.

It is my job to mold the little human that is my son and I know that I am going to have a battle on my hands to create the well rounded boy/teenager/adult that I want to see in him. But I am going to damn well try my hardest.