Thursday, July 6, 2017

What A Girl Wants

“Reese is upset with you,” Stoney tells me.

“Why?” I asked, a little surprised. I usually know when she’s mad at me because, in true girl fashion, she can’t disguise it. It’s written all over her face. Most times, I don’t care because she’s done something to deserve my anger. But this time, I hadn’t done anything. I hadn’t banned YouTube for the day. I hadn’t taken Jack or Wes’ side over hers. I was clueless. What could I have possibly done?

“She told me that she really feels like you don’t love her as much as the boys,” explains Stoney.

Eye roll. You have GOT to be kidding me? I don’t love her? If I didn’t love her, I wouldn’t break my neck and bank account with select soccer and all the trimmings, birthday parties, play dates, trinkets, toys and the list goes on and on. I try to make it to every function at school, no matter how ridiculous the time for working moms.

I’m killing myself here. But I don’t love you?!!!

“Well,” Stoney interrupts my rant,  “maybe that’s not what she needs.”

But that’s what I needed. You see, I grew up with a mother constantly telling me she loved me. Yet, I felt like she never really showed it. Most know that mother battled a long addiction to painkillers until she passed away a few years ago. After it became a pronounced problem for her, she never made it to games, never hosted sleepovers, never went to parent conferences, reviewed spelling words, bought costumes for camp…none of that. So, my plan was and is to be as present as I can for my kiddos.

But Reese is making me reevaluate what present means, at least for her. Yea, I’ve read the mommy blogs that emphasize spending times with your kids, but who has time for that. We are busy doing and going. But I’m learning that busy kids don’t mean happy kids.

I’m realizing that Reese, as well as the boys, want more of my time outside of racing around from event to event. While I’m worried about their brains turning to mush from video games or muscle atrophy because they’ve spent five minutes without physical activity, they just want to chill.

If I ask the boys what they want to do, the simultaneous response would be, “I don’t know.” Reese, however, doesn’t really have a problem expressing herself. She tells me exactly what she wants to do… get a pedicure, go shopping, go get sushi (yes, she's bougie). She’s been telling me she wants more of me, but I guess I haven’t been listening. And when she gets "all in her feelings," I just write it off as her flair for the dramatic arts. 

Have I been wrong? Don't answer that, Stoney.

By the end of my mom’s life, our relationship was less than ideal. I hate to admit that we had many arguments rooted in the fact that I didn’t think she cared. I felt like her love for me should have trumped any love she felt for prescription drugs. I should have come first. 

I don’t want to repeat the same mistake with my daughter. Her love language doesn't necessarily mean being a part of every activity known to man. She just wants a little me time. Now, I can’t promise that we’re going to make cookies every Saturday afternoon, or rewatch Beauty and Beast ad nauseum every Sunday night. But I am going to make a conscious effort to spend more quality time and ensure a quality mother-daughter relationship.

Friday, January 27, 2017

Finding Time for the Adult-Only Vacation

A little adult time
I’ve been dreaming about it for years. Me, on an island, sitting on the beach, drinking something out of a pineapple, and enjoying the wind and waves. Stoney is close by summoning the waiter to refill said drink in pineapple. I don’t know who is more scantily clad, me or Stoney, but either way, sun’s out, guns out, baby!  It’s the adult-only, couple’s vacation, and it has eluded us for several years now. I travel for work, plan vacations for the kids, even had a girl trip or two, but Stoney and I haven’t been on a vacation alone together since…well, our honeymoon.

Houston. We have a problem.

Most know that Stoney is my ex-husband/boyfriend. When we first discussed reconciling, we talked about what we thought went wrong. He believed I didn’t pay enough attention to him. I believed that taking care of our three children was a way of giving him attention. Round and round we went, but we kept ending up in the same spot. We didn’t spend time with each other anymore. Just the two of us.

Our family trip to D.C.
Any couple will tell you that the dynamics of a marriage change drastically when children enter the picture. The focus shifts from marriage to parenting. And if anyone survives the first year of that first child without seeing dead people due to sleep deprivation, you should call that a win. But in the midst of all the organized chaos that is parenthood, there are still expectations to be a couple.

There’s only one problem. Ain’t nobody got time for that!

Our three kids have us running in three different directions every day of the week. I can’t remember the last time I showered without interruption, much less had time to take an uninterrupted weekend off. By the time I finish writing down the instructions for the innocent victim who agreed to keep them, I would need to take a nap. Who is going to take them everywhere they need to go?  Who’s going to be at their beck and call whenever they need something? Who is going to take care of them like I take care them?

No one. And, I’m going to have to learn that it’s okay.

The kids will be fine while we’re gone, right? No, they probably won’t shower as much…wait, they don’t do that now. They might have to miss a practice or a game because of logistics. But truth be told, they could probably stand a little vacation of their own from their hectic schedules. A mom-and-dad-only trip may be just what the doctor ordered for everyone.

We haven’t decided where we’re going or when, but I think we’re getting closer to pulling the trigger. Maybe...

Any suggestions?

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

The Talk: Understanding the Fear after the Elections

Election night blues
Election day was a rollercoaster of emotions for me. But the day after, the emotions were crystal clear. Anger, disappointment and sadness hung over my head like a cloud. For many of us, this wasn’t an election about Republicans vs. Democrats, big government vs. small government or rural strife vs. inner city problems. It was about right vs. wrong. And to wake up to the fact that half of America (who bothered to vote) voted for someone who lit up the campaign trail with insidious rhetoric aimed at anyone who wasn’t white was like a punch to the gut.  

So, to all of my Caucasian counterparts who are wondering why I’m a little stand-offish and clearly not my jovial self in polite company these days, let’s talk.

Most of my Republican friends will say they voted for Trump because of what he said about bringing jobs back to Middle America. Others will say they voted for Trump because he is going to cut taxes and be more fiscally responsible. All of those reasons are fine. But let's talk about the other things he said, the things that people are so quick to overlook, the things you turned a blind eye and ear to during the election and since. He has flung about horribly insensitive and racially-charged rhetoric that has set the tone for people to do things like push a girl off the sidewalk at Baylor University and call her a Nigger, or tell our Hispanic elementary school students that they need to go back to where they came from.

Are those examples too far removed from your daily life? I kind of thought so too, until a parent at my son’s school called saying she was upset because there were boys passing out donuts to Trump supporters but not Hillary supporters. I’m sure it was all fun and games, but not funny and it wasn’t a game. Or how about when my nine-year-old daughter came home and said one of her nine-year-old classmates said she was glad Trump was elected so he can keep the Mexicans from killing us.

What?!!!  This is an absolute shock! Or is it?

You see, the rhetoric on the campaign trail and now in the White House has energized and given a louder voice to this awful behavior in our society. In many cases around the country, it’s not just talk anymore. It has turned into action. Swastikas and Confederate flags aren’t necessarily new, but they are being flown high with new confidence and pride. I don’t feel safe in a neighborhood that I have live in for the last five years and a country that I was born in. I’m worried about letting my children walk the dog. People are entirely too comfortable with being confrontational and violent. Where does it stop? Who is going to stand up for me and my family, if it comes down to that? I used to think the people of this country would. Now, I'm not so sure.

Don’t get me wrong. I don’t think all of my conservative friends who voted for Trump are racists. But you co-signed for someone who is…or who clearly has racist, sexist tendencies. You can’t say you care about my family, but then vote for someone who wouldn’t give my son a job solely based on the color of his skin. You can’t say you think my daughter is great, but then vote for someone who thinks that a woman’s looks determine her value. You can’t care about me, but then vote for someone who would do me harm.

So yeah, I feel slightly betrayed. We have normalized crazy, and crazy is taking full advantage.

Some are saying, “Give him a chance.” I did. Every day of the campaign, Trump had the chance to turn the corner toward reconciliation, but he never did.

Some are saying, “Let’s come together.”  You can’t degrade and demean me for 18 months and expect me to get over it in 8 days.

Some are saying, “Get over it.” I would if the President-elect would not constantly dismiss my concerns by appointing a known alt-right sympathizer to the highest post in the White House.

I am truly hoping that this President will prove me wrong. Yet, I have a sneaky suspicion that he is who he has said he is.

Real Talk. I can understand if you voted for Trump because of what he said about NAFTA, taxes and jobs. But, I can’t understand wearing blinders when it comes to who he is and what he stands for. You can't pick and chose the parts you like. You have to realize that a person’s integrity stems from the totality of their life and works. After 70 years, I don’t like the picture that Trump's life has painted. More importantly, after 70 years, I don’t see it changing.

P. S. for those of you who didn’t vote at all, I can’t with you…

Monday, June 27, 2016

Forgiveness: Rebuilding a Family


Most people who know me know that I have been divorced from my children’s father for about five years now. Most who know me also know that we have been back together, working on picking up the pieces, for the last two.  And the truth is, sometimes I don’t know which is harder.

It would be easy to say that infidelity tore my family apart. That’s the obvious answer. But it’s the not-so-obvious things that probably started the tear. Nothing big or unique, but small rocks being thrown at our glass house. Ask any married woman and, if they’re honest, they will tell you that raising a family, being a wife, working and continuing to be the woman their husband fell in love with is nearly impossible.

In my case, we had three children under the age of six. All of my time was spent taking care of them. Not complaining. That’s what I’m supposed to do. I’m a parent and chose to have each one of them. Well, the last one may have been the result of a little too much wine and not enough hobbies, but loved and wanted nonetheless.

The Jackson trio
Looking back, there was a lot going on. Who has time to be crazy, sexy, cool? The attire of the day, or everyday for that matter, was sweat pants? And if they were clean, it was a really good day. I had one nursing, one still on the bottle and I usually couldn’t find the other one. Needless to say, it wasn’t a glamorous time in the Jackson household. There wasn’t time for anything, especially my spouse.

I know what you’re thinking…. that I’m making an excuse for my ex’s bad behavior.  I’m not. I still think he was an idiot and, most days, he would agree. But that doesn’t detract from the truth. We didn’t spend the time needed to nurture our relationship. I didn’t spend the time needed to nurture him.

When we first separated and subsequently divorced, things were pretty rocky. There was a lot of crying, cussing and arguing. Every time we got together, the tension could have killed an elephant. But after the initial pain subsided, we both decided that we wanted our kids to grow up with both of their parents…mainly because we didn’t. Both of us were raised by family members, not our parents, and neither of our fathers were integral parts of our lives. It was important to us that our kids had a relationship with both of us.

That led to us indirectly spending a lot of time together at their various functions. I think I saw more of him then, being divorced, than I did when we were married. The familiarity of our relationship and the demise of his “extracurricular activities” got the better of us. He said he wanted to work it out. I told him to take a lap. He persisted.

So, we decided to fight for it. I use the term fight because that’s what it is. Every day, we make a conscious decision to fight off the doubt, the naysayers, and the not-so-fond memories to make things work for our family.

The gang's all here. Back
together again
And why not? Isn’t family worth fighting for? We have no trouble fighting for a promotion. Hell, some of us will fight anyone who cracks a mean “yo-mama” joke. Why is there so much scorn and judgment for people wanting to save their families…especially in the face of infidelity? Wouldn’t you work to save an investment? We’ve invested years in this relationship, building a family and a life together. After going back and forth with others and with myself, I came to realize that I wanted this. Despite what it looked like to others, I wanted my family to work. That began with forgiveness. 

I’m not going lie. Forgiveness is hard, on both of our parts… me forgiving him and him forgiving himself. He’s had to not only reconcile with me, but with everyone he’s hurt and disappointed. It can’t feel good, but he’s doing it for us. We’re doing it for us.

There are days when we both say that quitting and going our separate ways would be so much easier. Yet, reconciliation is where the real reward lies. Working to restore a marriage should never be considered a waste of time. It’s to be applauded. Anyone can run. It takes real strength and courage to fight for your family… even if it’s against seemingly impossible odds.