A Day of Independence

Woman wearing dory shirt by JulieAnn Corbin

My Dory shirt says “Keep Calm and Nope Lost It” 😉

As this isn’t my year to have my daughters on the 4th of July, I have a day of independence that I’m using to get work done. The girls and I already celebrated the holiday by going to my mom’s for dinner on Saturday and then standing out on my deck to watch the fireworks display from my neighbor two houses down. Nothing beats being able to stand outside in the dark in my pajamas on my own deck and see a stunning array of fireworks. I didn’t have to worry about parking or crowds and when the show was over, we could all just go to bed.

I’ve already accomplished two major tasks this morning because I wanted to beat the heat. I trimmed my front bushes (I call them my arch nemesis) without any major injury and then mowed the weeds down in my back yard. My grass hasn’t grown much due to lack of rain and that’s fine with me because I don’t like mowing, but the tall weeds were making it look a bit too much like a field. The front yard has a similar issue but not as bad, so it can wait for another day. It was already 80 degrees when I finished yard work at 11 a.m. and with very few clouds, it was getting hot fast.

wild front bushes by JulieAnn Corbin

My front bushes before trimming.

trimmed front bushes by JulieAnn Corbin

My front bushes after trimming.

lawn with weeds by JulieAnn Corbin

My not very green back yard with tall mystery “weeds”

lawn mowed by JulieAnn Corbin

My back yard mowed.

I’ve now showered to remove all of the bush trimmings and blown dirt and grass from my hair and body and I feel human again. I will be spending the rest of the day writing freelance so I have less to write when I have my daughters. It’s a challenge working from home in the summer because the girls groan when I say I have to write, but I do my best to limit the hours I work when I have them and I take breaks to spend time with them.

I hope that someday my daughters will understand that they’re the main reason I started working from home and realize that I did it to have more time with them. Stealing away a few hours every day to work in my bedroom while they play in the living room is far better than being away from them for an entire day working in an office toward someone else’s dreams. I’m doing my best to show them that it’s possible to have a job you love and not just survive as an independent woman, but also thrive and be happy.

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The best presents

girls standing by lilac bush

Last night when I was talking to my youngest daughter, Jaycie, on the phone she asked “So you don’t want any presents?” in disbelief. I’ve been telling her since the weekend that I don’t need “things” on my birthday and that she and her sister Jordan are the best presents I could ever hope for. In response to her question last night, I reminded her of that again, but as she’s 8 and still very much in love with receiving and opening wrapped presents, I dont’ really expect her to understand.

I know how blessed I am to have my two daughters and they bring joy to every day of my life. It’s still hard during times when I don’t have them, but I keep myself busy and make sure I get my work done so I don’t have to do it when I have them. There’s never enough time to do everything in this life, but my girls come first and they always will.

While romantic love has eluded me and may continue to do so for the rest of my life, I’ve got the love I give to and receive from my daughters and that’s more than enough.

Sleeping alone…or not.

Jaycie's stuffed animals and footed sleeper in my bed awaiting her return.

Jaycie’s stuffed animals and pajamas in my bed awaiting her return.

I’m never truly alone when I sleep in my bedroom because Jazzmin’s bed is on the floor and she’s usually curled in a ball, snoring away by 8 p.m., whether I’m in bed or not. Before I adopted Jazzmin, one or both of my cats would sleep with me on the bed but now only Owl does occasionally because Aviendha is content in Jordan’s room.

Aside from furry, four-legged companions, I’ve been sleeping alone in my bed since before I moved out of my ex husband’s house. For a while I slept on one side of the bed but now I happily sleep smack dab in the middle. About a month ago, I stopped sleeping without companionship in my bed…at least on the nights when I have my daughters. Jaycie used to sleep in my bed one or two of the nights I had her but now she sleeps in my bed every night she and her sister are at my house. I didn’t let her sleep with me when I was sick recently but otherwise, she’s my snuggle bug.

Jaycie is seven year’s old and has her own bedroom with a comfortable bed, tons of toys and shelves of stuffed animals. She will sleep in there if I tell her to but why should I tell her to? I’m certain that eventually she’ll want to go back into her room and have her own space. Children grow up far too fast and I dearly miss the days when both my girls were babies and we’d nap together.

I’ve asked Jaycie many times why she likes sleeping with me and her final, definite answer is that she doesn’t like to sleep alone. My house isn’t very big and all three bedrooms are close to each other at the end of the hall so it isn’t as though she’s a wing away from her sister and I, but if she says she’s lonely, I believe her.

While it’s nice having another warm body in bed with me, it has its share of hazards. I’m often getting elbowed in the back of the head and shoulders, kicked, robbed of covers and have plucked a stuffed animal out from under me on more than one occasion. But I happily put up with it all because she’s my daughter, my sunshine and my sweetness.

My bed is so big that I still get to sleep smack dab in the middle with plenty of room for Jaycie to sleep next to me. Would I consider booting her from my bed so a man can sleep with me? Not a chance. There will come a day when she won’t be sleeping with me anymore and that will change things but for the present, this is how things are. When I have my girls they are my focus and the most important part of my life. I will never allow them to feel that they’ve been replaced in my heart by anyone else. I do realize that such a choice isn’t desirable for all single mothers but it’s the choice I’ve made for myself and my daughters.

Warm and Glowing

Vintage plastic Santa and newer fiber optic tree

Vintage plastic Santa and newer fiber optic tree with my bigger tree in the background

Jaycie loved coming home to the little Christmas tree all assembled and lit up. She and Jordan are looking forward to putting the ornaments on the tree this weekend and helping me put more holiday decorations up. I wanted to have a few more decorations up before I get my girls tomorrow but I had some work to do this morning and then tidying this afternoon first.

Keeping my kitchen clean is an ongoing project. I get it all tidied with everything put away but it quickly falls into disarray as I bake and cook during the week. Not to mention that every flat surface is covered with the girls’ daily excess of school papers and mail odds and ends. This afternoon and evening I worked at putting everything back where it belonged and sorting through papers before tucking them away in their various files. After that I battled the mountain of my daughters’ clean laundry until every item was in its appropriate drawer and I could see the surface of my bed again.

My chores complete, I shared some peanut butter toast with Jazzmin and took a welcome break. When my hunger was sated, I went into the basement and pulled out some of my favorite holiday decorations. There’s the light up plastic Santa in his sleigh being pulled by a reindeer that’s been in my family since I was little, perhaps longer. I remember coming home from school to my childhood home and seeing that lit up by the front door, it always made me feel all warm and fuzzy. I also put up my little fiber optic tree that was new last year to replace the one I’d had for 10 years that finally broke. Lastly for the night was the Christmas banner I hung up on the outside of my front door.

I had tons of colored lights last year but they’ve somehow vanished this year which is both peculiar and frustrating. I love stringing holiday lights all over my house and I still need to put some up in my kitchen to complete the colorful glow. Looks like I’ll be picking up a few more strings tomorrow when I’m out. The girls and I are going to see the movie Frozen with my mom and then it’s back home for holiday cookie baking and Chex Mix making. I got some new ninja shaped cookie cutters this year and Jaycie’s excited about making those and biting their heads off. She’s a cutie but a little imp sometimes…

All in all, I’m proud of myself and know that I’m making progress with my holiday decorating. I’d like to get it all done before I leave for my next New England trip this coming Wednesday but we shall see. I know my girls will be happy with whatever we get done and I’ll know I’ve made it another warm and glowing holiday experience for them.

While I was writing this I was listening to holiday music on Pandora and they’ve been playing all the songs my mom used to play on her record player around the holidays, featuring artists like Bing Crosby, Johnny Mathis, Andy Williams and Nat King Cole. It’s not quite the same without the record pop and hiss but the music still fills me with contentment, joy and the urge to lay under the tree and look up through the branches and colored lights. Added to that music is Jazz’s snoring as she snuggles on the couch with me and the warmth I feel isn’t all from being under a fuzzy blanket and furry dog, it comes from my happy heart.

…Hear Me Roar

zebra print top

My father always used to love to sing the words “I am woman, hear me roar!” somewhat off-key and in a joking way when my mother or I would do something particularly fierce. He did it in an amused and amusing way but I know he was impressed by the power of us Corbin women. You don’t mess with a Corbin woman, we’re a force to be reckoned with.

My force of reckoning was tested this evening as I battled issues with my shower yet again. The pressure to the shower head suddenly reduced to a trickle last night. While many people pay ridiculous amounts of money for waterfall or gentle rain showers, having to wash in what equated to a light sprinkle was time-consuming and frustrating. I was too tired to fight with it last night though so I saved it for this evening after my workout.

The mount for the old shower head had been stuck on the pipe since I moved into the house. I managed to swap out all but that one part with a new shower head. I’d tried wrenches, pleading, grumbling and pouting but that darn thing wouldn’t come off. Well tonight I’d had enough. I could tell the reduced water pressure was being caused by that one part and I was determined to get it off. When I’m determined to do something, best step aside.

With some ingenuity involving tweezers that now bend the wrong direction, I was able to FINALLY loosen that mount enough to remove it! I was so ecstatic, I gave out a triumphant whoop and almost did an end zone dance in my bathroom! I was able to reassemble everything with my newer shower head and ta-da! The water pressure issue was resolved and I had a lovely, full strength shower that washed away my workout “glistening.”

It’s incredibly empowering for me when I accomplish tasks that some more “delicate” women think they need a man for or hire a plumber to deal with. I’ve learned over the years that if you want something done right, you do it yourself!

I’m a unique creature and have barely touched upon the strength I possess. There’s only one me but I wish more women were like me. Willing to embrace their own power, their own abilities, not forever looking for a man to “rescue” them and do all the “hard” work. By always relying on someone else to be their strength, they never realize their own potential, they never see the greatness within themselves. They never give themselves a chance to truly share that greatness with someone else while still being a whole and complete person.

The road I’ve chosen to walk as a single woman, single mother isn’t for everyone. It takes a mixture of faith, luck, stubbornness, tenacity, determination and rebellion. It’s a bold and often misunderstood move to stand up and say that no, I’m not just giving myself over to someone. I deserve someone who will fight for me, all of me, not just the parts they like. Someone who understands that standing on equal footing is the only way to move forward together…well, if he can keep up with me that is…

The Love of Little Girls

My girls are my world. They come first, always have and always will. When I have them, they are my focus. When I don’t have them, I miss them. The toughest part of my divorce was knowing that I’d have less time with them. However, I also knew that they deserved a happy mother and I wasn’t that while married to their father. I am a very happy mother now and just as loving, nurturing and caring as I was on the days they were born.

I feel very blessed that I have two little girls with such unique personalities and that they get along so well with each other! They both have certain aspects of me such as my curiosity, stubborn nature, sense of humor and creativity. Those aspects show themselves differently in each girl but they’re there. Jordan loves school and is excellent at it. Jaycie is very smart but dislikes school and would much rather be playing with her toys. What’s most important though is that we all love each other, get along and have fun together.

The girls playing in the fall leaves.

The girls playing in the fall leaves.

Doing some sort of peculiar dance...

Doing some sort of peculiar dance…

I have different ways that I bond with each of my girls. Jaycie likes to sleep in my bed with me sometimes and both girls love jumping on my bed. As it’s a memory foam mattress they just sort of practice falling on it which is always amusing. I help Jaycie with her homework as she often struggles thinking up sentences for the spelling words she doesn’t know the meaning of. She comes up with some cute sentences sometimes like “The hamburger crossed the road.” That one made us both giggle and shows her adorable sense of humor.

Jaycie walks Jordan down to the bus stop some mornings.

Jaycie walks Jazzmin down to the bus stop some mornings.

Lately Jordan and I have been bonding in her bedroom. She goes in there to do her homework when Jaycie is enjoying her TV time after finishing her homework. As I can’t write with cartoons on, I also go in Jordan’s room and we both sit on her bed and do our work. This has proven a good way to keep informed of what’s going on in Jordan’s life, as she’s more open to me when we’re both working. I tell her what I’m working on, she tells me what her homework is, and we commiserate about the “fun” we’re having.

Jordan multitasking by studying and petting Jazzmin.

Jordan multitasking by studying and petting Jazzmin.

Jordan multitasking by studying and petting Aviendha.

Jordan multitasking by studying and petting Aviendha.

My girls will always be my “babies” and my “little girls” even when they’re grown and out on their own. I don’t really know where the time has gone but I do my very best to enjoy every moment I have with them. I hope that they will always look back happily on their childhood and the times we all spent together.

Girls and I at Amesbury Flatbread Company

Girls and I at Amesbury Flatbread Company

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!