A Different Path

image

My pup Jazzmin laying by my tree

I set my Christmas tree up today and it came out lovely, which made me quite happy. I’ve had the little fake tree for at least a couple decades so putting it together, fanning out the branches and hanging the lights on it is something I can almost do in my sleep. I usually put the tree up before Thanksgiving but I just didn’t have time this year. The mere fact that I can put the tree up whenever I want, even before Thanksgiving, is an empowering reminder of a freedom I didn’t have when I was married to a man who didn’t “allow” any holiday decorating until after Thanksgiving.

Without going into the gory details, I chose to divorce my now ex husband several years ago. I hadn’t been happy in our marriage for years and when my father died in 2009, I realized life was too short to remain miserable. The main reason I waited to seek divorce was because I didn’t want to have less time with my daughters, but when my unhappiness began affecting them, I knew I couldn’t keep pretending that everything was okay.

For as long as I can remember, I wanted to be a mom. Even though my marriage to my daughters’ father ended, they were the best things to come out of it. My girls are my world, have been since they were born and I miss them when I don’t have them, but I’ve never regretted or had second thoughts about divorcing their father. We just weren’t a good fit and I couldn’t be myself married to him. Had I remained in that marriage I never would have discovered my own strength and everything else about me that makes me so unique. I also wouldn’t be as incredibly happy as I am today.

My divorce was finalized in the summer of 2011, over a year after I got a lawyer and started the process. My ex and I were married just a few days shy of 13 years. Moving out on my own for the first time in my life was both exciting and scary. Living in the same house with my now ex husband as we went through the divorce was a rough experience and when I got my own place, I finally felt like I could breathe again!

My ex and I split custody 50/50 and it took me at least six months to adjust to not having my girls all the time but eventually I remembered who I was when I wasn’t playing the mom role. I also remembered who I was before I started playing the role of dutiful wife. I didn’t have to worry about someone telling me what to do anymore or rearranging my stuff or making me feel like I wasn’t good enough. I was in charge of my life, my house and my actions and it felt amazing! It still feels amazing!

Although I’ve had a couple relationships since my divorce where we actually called each other boyfriend and girlfriend, they weren’t good fits. One was too soon after my divorce and one too late as I’ve now learned to love being on my own. I’ve also dealt with men whose less than honorable intentions gave me some trust issues. Regardless, I don’t expect to be single forever, but I haven’t found the right man for me yet and I have to do what’s right for me and my girls. You see, my ex husband and I took very different paths after the divorce.

My ex found someone new almost immediately after our divorce or perhaps before it was even finalized. In truth, I really don’t care. I thought perhaps he’d see what it was like being alone and even spend more time with the girls but getting a new girlfriend so swiftly who already had three kids of her own kept that from happening. He’s marrying that woman tomorrow (my girls are in the wedding but strangely, I was not invited ;)), doing the blended family thing and continuing the predictable path of his life. That works for him, but I have never been one to follow a predictable path. I forgot that when I was married, but I’ll never forget again.

Living as a single mom and woman, I’ve managed to buy my own house, car, furniture, etc. and I took the leap from working an unrewarding office job to working from home as a freelance writer three years ago. Now I’m trying to create a successful jewelry making business and it’s another scary and exciting step on this winding, curving, hilly path I navigate. On my own I’m free to take road trips to New England and find myself in all sorts of new places. I never would have known how brave I am had I stayed married.

Although there are times when I do get a bit lonely without the girls, I always have my pets to keep me company. I have my loyal dog Jazzmin as my sidekick and walking companion and as my ex doesn’t like dogs, I never would have had her if I’d stayed married. I also have three cats and that’s one over my ex’s “two cat limit.” His soon to be wife is allergic to cats and dogs so he never has to worry about pet hair in his home again. Me, I suck up an entire cat and dog’s worth of fur every time I vacuum and I don’t mind at all.

Another easy way for me to banish loneliness is to think about how unhappy I was in my marriage or any of my previous relationships. I would never go back to any of that just to keep from being alone and I’m quite happy on my own. I haven’t given up on finding the right match for me eventually and I’ll always believe in love, but my girls get my full attention when I have them and my winding, adventurous path gets my full attention when I don’t have my girls. Walking such a path alone is easier when I focus on the light and leave the shadows behind.

Advertisements

Redefining the Single Woman

As someone familiar with online dating sites, I’ve gotten the impression that there are certain assumptions about single women, especially those on online dating sites. There seems to be the assumption that they must be desperate, picky, looking for sex, only attractive in still photos…or all of the above.

I have been rather surprised to discover that single men my age want a woman my age (though usually younger) who doesn’t have kids. I don’t really know how many women my age don’t have children. I only know my circumstances. I get that a lot of men aren’t into the idea of “the whole package” that already includes kids. Their profile says they “want kids someday” but apparently, those kids have to be genetically there’s in order to fit the bill. They’re entitled to their preferences just as I’m entitled to mine.

I do wonder though, does anyone really understand how many dimensions there are to today’s “single woman”? There are so many reasons why a woman is still single and I assure you, there’s nothing wrong or broken about being a single woman. A woman might be single because:

She’s so busy with her career she knows it would be unfair to attempt any sort of romantic relationship.

She suffers from unrequited love and chooses being alone over trying to find someone else she knows she’ll never love.

She endured an unhappy marriage and has no desire to venture down that road again.

She prefers the company of her pets because they don’t mind that she hangs out in yoga pants even when not doing yoga.

She loves the feel of having a bed all to herself.

She doesn’t want to have to answer to anyone else for why she does what she does.

The idea of being ignored on “game day” really doesn’t appeal.

She has children and she doesn’t want to introduce them to men who won’t stick around.

She’s never actually tried “the bar scene” and has absolutely no desire to.

She’s waiting for the tragic…er romantic comedy that is her life to have its happy ending.

She figures if playing “hard to get” is the way to win a guy then playing “impossible to get” should lure the entire male population.

She likes never worrying that she’ll fall into the toilet in the middle of the night because the seat is up.

Men are too blind to see what an amazing creature she is and how deserving she is of love.

There was no real rhyme or reason to any of that. Just the musings of a single woman with a talent for observing the world around her. Agree or disagree, call the reasons bitter, cliché, stereotypical or outright ridiculous but I bet they ring true for some other single gals out there. I will tell you this though; today’s single chick is one tough cookie that comes from her own unique and beautiful recipe.

Living in the Moment

My daughters enjoying reading

My daughters enjoying reading

Quite often I’m too busy living life to find the time to write about what’s happening in my life. I’m enjoying living in the moment and taking it all in. It isn’t that I don’t want to share by writing about it, it’s that my written voice falters sometimes. If I could write my thoughts as they happen, I’d have countless epic novels written about motherhood, divorce, dog walking, writing, reading, painting, birds, relationships and so on. But that sort of technology doesn’t exist yet, which is probably just as well.

Last Wednesday was my daughters’ last day of school for the summer. They were excited of course and I was happy to see them happy. It was bittersweet though because the end of school means the end of them needing to ride the bus from my house Thursday and Friday morning. Custody with my ex is exactly 50/50 and he has them the last half of the week. For convenience’s sake, he drops them off at my house for the bus on two of his days. That works wonderfully for me because that means I get to see them every weekday morning. That ends in the summer and going more days without seeing them than I’m used to, is an adjustment for me.

Thursday and Friday went by far too slowly and I wasn’t as productive as I should have been…on anything. Saturday morning when I picked them up from my ex’s, it was as though the sun finally came back out! Life felt whole and right again and I spent the entire weekend playing with them, doing crafts with them and just being with them in any way I could.

Jordan has recently started making keychains with plastic craft lace so I bought her an entire package of it for summer crafts. I asked her to make me a keychain out of my favorite color of blue and she had it done in no time at all!  I know how to knit, crochet and cross stitch but I had no experience with this new type of craft. I decided I was up for a challenge this weekend and pulled out the instructions that came with the lace. It took me a few tries, but I eventually learned how to do what’s called the “cobra stitch” and I created something that could be a really small bracelet or a key chain. Jordan knows a different type of braid with the lace and it’s one I can’t wrap my head around. She quickly picked up the braid I learned and I’m sure she and I will soon have it mastered together.

The bracelet/keychain I made

The bracelet/keychain I made

While I didn’t write about my weekend adventures as they happened, I loved living them. Time with my girls is not something I will cut back on for the sake of writing. Eating, sleeping, mowing…yes, I’ll cut back on doing those but my girls have always and will always come first!