Life is a roller coaster.  Nothing is ever the same.  One moment, you’re enjoying vacations with your family, the next, your divorced, then you learn to love yourself and be completely content with living life with your family and friends and knowing you are not alone, even without a significant other.  And then, you meet someone, unexpectedly.  Life is filled with twists and turns, and sometimes even a loop-de-loop.  I have learned to raise my hands high and enjoy the roller coaster. 

So let’s chat about blended families.  Most of my girlfriends have younger kids.  The decision to introduce someone to the kids is huge, and you want to be careful with the kiddos of who you introduce.   With older kids, it’s a bit different.  My kids are only home during college breaks and the summer.  I really didn’t have to worry too much about introductions for a while.  But, one day, my daughter met him on accident.  He was trying to get out the door before she got home, but we were just enjoying chatting and lost track of time.  They met briefly.  It took a long time for me to really let him in and have her join us for dinner.  But once the meetings were intentional, I knew I had really let my walls down. 

I met his son too.  When he allowed us to meet, I knew he was letting his walls down too.  The intention of introductions to your kids feels huge.  There is the idea that you are that important that they want to share you with the most important people in their life.  Eventually, he met my son and I met his daughter.  Let the blending begin. 

When he moved in, he gave me phone numbers for his kids and his sisters, for emergencies.  I did the same for him.  I was really careful to not use them.  Blending and introducing young kids, I’m sure is super scary and challenging.  You have questions such is discipline and when to have sleep overs and leaving kids alone with the significant other and telling the other parent.  But, it’s difficult with adult children also.  Our kids have been so accepting.  That has not been a challenge at all.  We are both so fortunate to have children that want nothing more than to see their parents happy.  I love that about my kids and I love that about his kids.  But, my kids have a step mom (I have written about steps before), and she has never stepped on my toes as a mom.  Our kids are adults and they all have both their parents.  His kids have a mom.  My kids have a dad.  The challenge is to make sure the kids know you are not there to replace anyone.

I am someone who is in their lives because I love their dad to bits.  The three of us have a common desire, and that is to see their dad happy and smiling.  For that, I am so grateful to them.  I have no intentions of stepping on their toes.  I don’t need to be a mother to them.  They have a mom.  I would never want to replace that.  Just as I would never want someone to step in and replace me as a mom.  I will be there for them and be excited for their successes and want to support them through challenges, but when it comes to advice, I am here if they want it, but will never push anything on them. 

Meeting family has been amazing also.  My family has welcomed him with open arms.  They had been dying to meet the man that has put a smile on my face and allowed me to be completely myself.  It’s always scary introducing someone to the family.  But they love that he makes me happy. 

A month ago I went with him and his daughter and grandson to meet his sisters.  They were so completely welcoming.  They loved seeing their brother happy.  And to hear him talk about me, about the little notes I hide for him every morning, they could see his face light up.  His sisters and their families are amazing.  I loved hearing about their parents and growing up.  They pulled out family albums.  I just felt like I belonged.  We went to celebrate their father’s birthday.  The first birthday since he passed away.  I wanted to make sure I was respectful of that.  I stepped back from family pictures, so they could have their family moments.  They pulled me right in anyway. Blending…

Our families have not met, but we continue to grow together as a family unit. We continue to blend and I am loving every moment of it. I look forward to building relationships with his family and watching him build relationships with mine.

Life In the Fast Lane

One thing I have learned from my divorce is that I am an extrovert. I love being around people. Don’t get me wrong. I love my space too. But being around others just brings me joy.

I love going out with my friends or hanging out with them at their house or mine. I love visiting with family and going in the pool or relaxing. I love spending time with my guy playing golf or poker or date night. And I love when my kids come over and just fill my house with sweet noise. Given the opportunity, I will get up very early and go to bed extremely late to enjoy the people in my life.

But here’s the thing…being active like that, it doesn’t always like me. For instance, last week, I had been going all week. I completely crashed and burned last Monday into Tuesday. I was so exhausted, I forgot all my coping skills. But it’s not just about crashing because I am so tired. I get so busy, that I forget how to enjoy being alone. How to enjoy time to myself. This is supposed to be calming and enjoyable. I can watch what I want on tv. I can sit around on my couch with no pants on. I can talk to myself. I can sing at the top of my lungs and dance around my kitchen (my neighbors probably think I am weird). I love doing these things, but when I live my life in the fast lane, and never stop, I forget how important that time is.

If someone asked me 5 or 6 years ago if I thought my life would ever be this full, I would have said, “absolutely not!” I was a total couch potato. Always watching tv or sitting in my craft room. I was a total fuddy duddy. I learned to really just take life and run with it, and run and run and run and run and CRASH.

But, this week, I realized, I am not alone in keeping busy and forgetting how to be alone. It’s been a tough week for a few people in my life this week. Whether it is going out to avoid being home, or running around always taking care of other people just to be able to not respond to the bad in our lives. It’s really hard to face things that aren’t going your way.

I have surrounded myself with warriors. If you are in my life, know that I think that about you. Whatever your battle is, you have faced it head on and may have other battles you are gearing up for. This is one of our missions. Take some time to be alone. Think about what you enjoy doing alone. Embrace that down time. Love ourselves and enjoy being with ourselves. We are such strong people. Learn a new craft, enjoy a book, exercise, start cooking. Enjoy life in the slow lane sometimes. You don’t have to stay there. Start slow. Maybe just plan a weeknight where you can relax. Make a plan of what you will do. Start adding tv shows or movies to your Streaming cue. By some yarn and hooks so when the evening comes, you have something to do. A drink….don’t forget a good drink. It’s absolutely okay to drink alone. After all, think of it as a date. A date with your biggest love…You.

End of Summer Blues

Summer is coming to an end, which means bittersweet goodbyes to my kids and my older dog. In the beginning of summer I was worried about awkward moments with my kids and making sure our schedules were synched so they didn’t come home while I was in the middle of a date. There were times I would ask them not to come home on a certain night. I usually heard from my daughter, “awkward.” Yes Princess, it is awkward. But pretty sure it wouldn’t be as awkward as seeing me bent over my Sir’s lap like Lucy and Ricky Ricardo. Who knew Lucy and Ricky were kinky?

The summer was great. I had a wonderful time with the kids. I feel like we made huge strides in our relationships. I was able to enjoy my daughter so much as we travelled to Europe. We drank together and cried together and grew stronger together. I had some amazing quality time with my son. As we talked I could see that he was turning the corner from a young college student to a young man learning to take on responsibilities and hard work.

I just started to get used to our routine of them coming for dinner and or staying with me. I got used to my bed being shared with two snuggly dogs. And I even got used to the dogs waking me up an hour after I fell asleep because they refused to go out before heading to bed. I got used to hugs from the kids when they were here and watching them sleep (don’t tell them that part, they would think I am weird, but I still love the sound of their breathing when sleeping).

Today, I said goodbye to my son and my dog. They headed back to school early so my son could start working on his thesis for his senior year. Yes, his last year as an undergraduate!!! Where does the time go. I’m convinced it goes faster the older we get. My daughter heads back in a couple of weeks, however, she has such a full schedule, I don’t think I will get many more opportunities to see her. I laugh, because I kept thinking, it’s tough managing my single life schedule with my kids and I love my alone time. But the truth is, I love when my kids are here too. So, while I won’t have to worry about where they are staying at night and if I need to cancel a date or dinner with friends, I will miss my kids more than they know. I will have the quiet that I crave after a busy day at work, or after several nights of being out with friends and just needing a break. But I will miss the white noise of laughter from my kids and their friends. The noises that make my house feel like a home. While I won’t go through that extra 1 1/2 pounds of dog food every day, I will miss my older dog greeting me when I come home from work each day with his tippy tap feet. While I will have my lap back while I am watching tv, I will miss petting Spyder, as he thinks he is being sneaky and lying down on my lap (at 80 lbs, he thinks he is sneaky).

So, another transition that will give me more strength. I am learning not to be sad with these transitions but to be excited for what’s in store for me next. Road trips to State College, hopefully a Penn State football game, traveling to a Story Telling Festival, maybe a girls’ trip, camping with a friend, dates and more dates with my guy, a big graduation and much, much more fun in my life. So I will take some time to reflect on my amazing summer, and to acknowledge the sadness as my kids fly the nest, once again. I will be more than okay. I will be strong and I will thrive!!!!!!

Life is not a Spectator Sport

I have not posted in so long. I have been adjusting to a wonderful new way of life with my new job. I keep so busy during the day. It goes incredibly fast, and I am having such amazing experiences. And the best part is that when work is over, I am done working for the day. For the first time in 11 years, I am sleeping with my phone on vibrate. This is what it feels like to sleep in peace. The other wonderful part about my new job is that I can walk to work. It’s a great way to start and end the day.

So, I’m settling into work and settling into my new chapter and it’s May. This is the month I look forward to so much. The kids come home from college. I love having them home. And, even better, they seem happy to be spending time with me. But…yes, there is a but…when they tell me they don’t know which days they will be at my house, but they will just come over, well, that’s when I hear the needle slide off the vinyl and the lovely music come to a screeching halt. Yes, I am a single woman, however, I don’t rememer joining a convent. In fact, I might be struck by lightning if I tried.

So how do I tell my kids they are welcome MOST anytime, but maybe not all the time. I want my house to be open to them, however, I want to avoid any awkward situations. So, here’s the deal. My kids are in college. They are both adults. It’s going to be an awkward conversation, but much less awkward than having to put a sock on the door.

The rules have been discussed, and I am pretty sure they are good with it. Let’s make a plan for the week, so I can make my weekly plans (dates, girls’ nights out, etc). If you want to come over between those times, fantastic!!!!! But call first. If I don’t answer and my car is there, check the glass front door. If it’s locked…walk away. I have blocked you from getting to the door where there is a key. There’s a reason for that. Let’s not have an awkward moment. If my car is gone and that door is unlocked, come on in. This house is meant to feel like home. I want them to feel at home here. But, I have also gotten used to a life of living on my own.

This has been causing some anxiety for a while now. I wasn’t sure how the discussions would go. But they went well and I believe the kids understand. Without thinking about too much of what I have said to them, I think they are happy that I am so comfortable with myself, that I can be open with them. That I have a social life. I love that I can be open with them. And that they know just how much I love them and completely enjoy all the time I have with them. But they also respect that there are times that I will need to ask for some space also. Our relationship has grown so much, even in this past year.

It’s funny. A Facebook memory recently popped up and it hit me like a ton of bricks. The post was about my kids running a fun run and my ex running a marathon. The last sentence in my post was,” Me, I was an AWESOME spectator!!!!!!” I read that sentence over and over again. Why the hell was I so proud of being an awesome spectator. That was my role when I was married. I chose to support everyone else and leave my needs on the back burner. So, with my kids home, I will still be a participant in my life. I cannot always wait for their schedule. I am a participant in my own life, and if that means having awkward conversations with the kiddos so they understand that I am living life, well, so be it. Life should never be a spectator sport!

Predict, Prepare, Plan

Let me share with you what Christmas looks like for me. Since I was little, my family has always celebrated Christmas on Christmas Eve night. We have a wonderful dinner and open presents. It’s amazing family time. When I was little, on Christmas Day, we spent the day in our jammies, playing with our toys. We had leftovers for dinner and it was a day for relaxation. When I started dating my ex (I was still in high school), Chrismas Day was spent with his family. When I got separated, the division of Christmas was a no-brainer. The kids spent Christmas Eve with me and my family and they went to their dad’s on Christmas Day. But I had never been alone on Christmas Day.

July 4th is my son’s birthday. It used to be a huge celebration. When I was married, we had a huge party with the family and all our friends. In the evening we always had the big fireworks. It was a big family day for us. This has become a tough day for me. The kids come to my house in the morning and I make homemade chicken and waffles (my son’s favorite meal). Usually they bring a couple friends over also, and we do presents. But, for fireworks, the kids usually head to their dad’s for his birthday dinner. I have an amazing view of the fireworks from my house and I watch them with my neighbors. But I don’t have my kids with me to watch the show. It’s not just the divorce, but a part of kids growing up that creates this time, but it still happens.

I can remember how tough those first nights home alone were, when I first got separated. I hated not having the kids home with me. But, when I found out my kids had been staying with their dad, at his girlfriend’s house, for months, without tell me, well, that made me being alone in my house even tougher. This was more unbearable than Christmas and July 4th.

I think now is as good a time as any to talk about a strategy for defeating those moments that can bring you down. It may be a weekend alone, or going to event and knowing you have to see your ex, or, it may be the ex’s year for Christmas. These moments happen all the time. Some of them just smack us in the face, but there are some for which we can emotionally prepare. Why let the predictable moments smack us in the face when we can be ready for them and kick those moments in the ass. My counselor gave me great advice on handling these moments. So I would love to pass this advice along to you.

There are moments we dread. We just know they are going to stop us in our tracks. This is where the Predict comes in. Do inventory. Check your calendar. What difficult times are coming up? Make a list of those times.

Now that you’ve predicted those moments, it’s time to Prepare. How are you going to feel? What is going to make you feel better? Will being with friends help? Or how about a bubble bath or reading a book? Maybe an entire weekend away will help. Prepare yourself for how you will feel and what you will need in your life to get you through.

Make a Plan. Try to make them as early as possible. Call a friend and plan a night (or a weekend) out. Have something set up to do at home (maybe cook a gourmet meal, with dessert, and hit up Red Box and watch a good movie). Whatever the plan, make it as early as possible. Once you have a plan, you will look forward to the moment and kick that feeling of dread right in the ass. See, you’re Wonder Woman. You did it!!!

So, with the holidays coming up, some of us may be in the need to predict, prepare and plan. It’s a tough alone holiday. Stores are closed, restaurants are closed. But guess what, the movie theaters are open. There are some great movies coming out…Mary Poppins, Rocket Man… Whatever you plan, be excited about it!

Let’s Start at the Beginning

It’s really hard to decide where the beginning really is. I separated from my ex-husband 3 1/2 years ago. Our divorce was finalized 2 years ago. This August, my youngest joined her brother at Penn State University. They took my dog with them, as my daughter has Lyme and is using him as an emotional support dog. I can’t lie, I was looking forward to having my dog with me so I wasn’t alone in my home. So, what did I do? I rescued a dog. Marshall. He’s pretty amazing!!!

In the last few years, I’ve worked really hard to create a better relationship with my kids. I’ve gone through the dating world (it’s entertaining, but almost more stressful than it’s worth). I underwent 2 surgeries last year. I had back surgery, and I also had half my colon removed. Yep, I now have a semicolon. I just got out of a year long relationship. I thought I loved him, but turns out, I think I was way more in love with having someone. The moment he got drunk and started putting me down, I was out the door. I know I deserve better than that, and won’t stand to be treated that way.

One of the best things I did after my divorce…I joined a local Facebook group for women who are separated and divorced. When I got separated, I realized I did not have friends that were mine. They were all mine with my ex-husband. And, since they were all football friends, and the ex was one of the high school football coaches, the loyalty went to him so their kids’ could get playing time. So, back to the drawing board with friends. So, my new friends are amazing. We are all in similar places in life and can be completely ourselves with each other. I love these ladies. When I’m down, they are there. When I am excited about something, they are there. We come from all walks of life, but it works for us all.

So, that’s pretty much the cliffnotes of my last 3 years. The dating adventures have been fun, and I’m getting ready to get back in the saddle again. I’m looking forward to sharing lessons I’ve learned along the way, as long as some fun and entertaining experiences in my life. I’m sure not all things will be fun, because, after all, it’s life. And life has a way of throwing crazy curveballs at us.