Twelve

Somehow, when I wasn’t really paying attention, I became the mom of a twelve year old.

It seems like just a moment ago she was still a baby. I so clearly remember those early sleepy, snuggly days and those toothless gummy grins. Days when I was literally her whole entire world.

Now when I look at her I see an amazing, strong, imaginative, independent, bubbly, innocent and free-spirited young woman. Seeing the person she is becoming fills me with immense pride, knowing that I had a hand in helping her learn and grow along the way.

In 12 years I have learned that one of the best parts of being a mom isn’t all the wonderful things I’ve been able to teach her along the way, though. It’s all the amazing things that she has taught me — about compassion, selflessness, and the value of laughter. From her I have learned the importance of both inner strength and rising to life’s challenges and admitting when I’m weak and need help. Being her mom has, without a doubt, made me a better person.

Happy birthday, Kiddo. Thank you for being you.

Kiddo

Nostalgia

This past weekend I got to thinking a lot about how far I’ve come in the past six or seven years.  Specifically I got thinking about Easter weekend, six years ago. It was during the time that CBG and I were broken up (and it really seemed like we weren’t going to get back together). I was working hard on moving on with my life — finding peace with the end of my marriage, and my still relatively new status as a single mom.

That Easter marked my first holiday totally on my own with my girls. My ex and I were split at the Christmas before, but still living in the same house. We did our uncomfortable best to try and have one last “normal” Christmas for our daughters, even though it was pretty much hellish and awful for us both.

So Easter was a Big Deal for me. There was a lot going on. I’d only been living in my new place on my own for a few months. CBG and I had broken up. I was dabbling in the dating world to try and forget all about him (and how much I still missed him). I was abandoned — rather traumatically — by a group of friends who once professed to love and accept me no matter what. To say my ex and I weren’t getting along was a massive understatement. I was unemployed and terrified about job prospects. I was struggling with finding my way a single mom. I was dealing with depression and anxiety on top of everything else.

It wasn’t a good holiday for me.

Still, I did my best to make it good for my girls. I did my best to set aside my own self-pity to ensure that they had a good Easter. One thing I do remember quite clearly, though, which was putting the girls to bed, filling their Easter baskets, and promptly crying. Crying out of fear for the unknown, loneliness, grief for the life that I’d lost. It was a lot to deal with. At the time, I couldn’t imagine how life was going to work out in a positive way for me. It seemed almost impossible.

And yet…here I am. Six years later life looks so much different. My two little girls are growing into two thoughtful, kind, intelligent, compassionate young women. I know that I have a lot to do with that. I am married to the love of my life — a man who respects me and loves all the parts of me. I have friends who genuinely care and who I can count on when life gets tough. I laugh. I feel joy. No, life isn’t perfect. And it was a long hard road to get to where I am today. But life is good…and for that, I feel incredibly grateful.

On Saturday night I wrote this on Facebook:

“If I had a time machine the only thing I would do is go back and tell the Kelly of six years ago one thing: ‘Have faith. Everything is going to be alright. Better than all right. All this is going to be worth it’.”

I don’t regret the difficulties I’ve had to endure to get to where I am. All those tears, all that heartache, all the struggle has brought me to where I am today. Sometimes in life we’ve just got to buckle down and get through the tough stuff to reach a better place on the other side. But when you do…it’s so very, very worth it.

 

Sh*t Just Got Real

I haven’t been blogging all that much lately, I know. There hasn’t been any real reason for it, just a lack of inspiration and motivation to do it. Although I’ve been doing a decent job at fighting the Seasonal Affective Disorder this year, I’ve still been feeling somewhat “meh”. It’s been a brutally harsh winter in our neck of the woods and that’s definitely worn me down. We had three storms in 7 days last week. In March. The month spring falls in.

Ugh. Of course, that would wear on anyone.

And while I’ve been doing lots of good things to combat my Seasonal Affective Disorder — exercising every day, using my UV lamp, taking vitamins, getting plenty of rest — I’ve also been doing some not so great things, too. Specifically, eating alllllllllll the junk food.

All of it. All the time.

I read somewhere that it’s common for people who are depressed (particularly those who suffer from Seasonal Affective Disorder), often self-medicate with carbs in particular. Um…yeah. I can confirm that this is, indeed a fact. #GimmeAllTheSugar

I have had struggles with my weight for most of my life. I’ve yo-yoed up and down for the better part of my adulthood. The last four or five years, however, I’ve done a pretty decent job of keeping my weight in a healthy range. Sure, a few pounds creep on every winter but a few weeks of getting back on track with healthy eating and exercise and life returns to normal. I thought I had it all figured out.

This year, I’ve made several attempts to “get back on the wagon”, particularly after Christmas was over. I’ll go a few days and everything is great, and then another snowstorm comes and CBG and I are stocking up on storm chips and ice cream, and my healthy eating resolve has once again gone straight out the window. And despite the consistent running all winter, you can’t out-exercise a bad diet.

There’s also the issue of living in the same house with someone who is struggling with his own food and weight issues. Yes, CBG is doing so much better lately, but there’s still a lot of medicating with junk food going on. And well, it’s pretty tough to stay on track when you’ve got a partner in crime who is all too willing to be the devil on my shoulder when I’m feeling tempted by chocolate or ice cream.  To be clear, though, I’m not blaming him for the predicament I’m finding myself in right now. He didn’t hold me down and force delicious, delicious cookies and Doritos into my face every weekend we spent together. I have made every single bad food choice in the last 4 or 5 months all on my own.

All I’ll be honest. I’ve been comforting myself with food. CBG and I have an argument, and I’ll curl up with some chocolate to feel better. Work stress is eased for a little while when I’ve got a bag of Doritos in my hand — at least until the chips are gone, that is. Sure, my husband and I weren’t as intimate as we’d like, but that is momentarily forgotten in a bowl of ice cream. You get the idea.

Now, I know that there’s worse things in life than putting on a few pounds. I also realize that there are people out there who have much greater weight struggles than mine. But I’ve reached the point where clothes aren’t fitting and I no longer feel comfortable in my own skin. I feel sluggish. I feel embarrassed. I am uncomfortable taking my clothes off in front of my husband.

This is not the woman I’ve been for the past 4+ years, and I’m unused to it. I feel as though right now I’m at a crossroads; nip this in the bud now, before it’s a huge problem, or just throw my hands up in the air, slide even further backwards, and deal with it much much later.

Welp…I’m dealing with this now, dammit. March is the time of year when the S.A.D. fog really begins to lift…when I finally feel motivated to start putting on some serious running miles. CBG is feeling better and our marriage is in a much better place than it was 2 or 3 months ago. I know what it means to eat healthy and do all the right things. With the exception of the past 4 or 5 months, I’ve been doing it for years now. And well…it’s time to stop with the crappy excuses and just do what I need to do.

Sh*t just got real, yo.

5 Weird Things I Love About My Husband

Sometimes I’m honestly amazed at how perfect CBG and I are for one another. I mean, we’ve had our issues over the years, particularly lately, but that certainly doesn’t erase all of the good things that we share. It took me a long while to realize that “perfect for each other” doesn’t necessarily mean “perfect all the time”, but now that I’m there, I can recognize that sure, he may drive me crazy sometimes, but there is no one else in this world that I would rather be with.

I was thinking last night about CBG’s funny little quirks and how these are some of the reasons why I love him so much. Quirks that might not be loved or appreciated by everyone, but they are certainly loved and appreciated by me.

And really, that’s what matters most, right?

So I know you’re dying to know — what exactly are these strange little things about CBG that I love so much? Here’s just a few of them off the top of my head:

  • His manners. And not just any manners, I might add. They’re the small little things he does — out of politeness toward me. Like always holding the door for me when we enter a building. Or the fact that he closes the bathroom door to clip his fingernails. Some women wouldn’t care about that, and to be honest, before CBG I’m not sure that I did, either. But these are small little gestures I notice that just leave me smiling.
  • His mad skills with an iron. Dude can iron. And he’s pretty picky about it, too. I love the fact that he cares about how he looks when he goes out in public, and doesn’t depend on me to take care of him in this department. Heck, he even irons for me in the morning now and again, too.
  • The way he twitches when he falls asleep at night. Full disclosure: CBG and I are snugglers…at least for the first part of the night. And every night, as he is falling asleep, CBG has these strange little random body twitches — left foot, right shoulder, left hand…for a few minutes until he completely falls asleep. Like a dreaming puppy. And for some reason, every night it makes me smile.
  • His love of music. He’s got some pretty crazy musical knowledge when it comes to song titles, bands, albums, etc. This came in handy more than once when we participated in music trivia games on our cruise ship vacations. I love how he puts so much thought into the playlists he creates for road trips together, or even when we’re just out running errands around the city. We don’t need to listen to the radio when we’ve got ‘CBG Radio’.
  • His appreciation of grammar and spelling. I’m a stickler when it comes to grammar, and thankfully, so is he! And for some reason, I find that incredibly sexy in a man…and it’s definitely not something every man has.

I know that there are plenty more weird things I love about CBG, like I said, these are just a few I rattled off the top of my head. What about you? Are there any kinda weird things about your partner/spouse that you just love for whatever reason? I would love to hear about them.

 

Back to Basics

journal
It’s no secret that this winter has been a struggle for me (as all winters are). This year has been the best that I can remember, despite marriage issues and despite this also being the worst winter, weather-wise that I can remember.

The truth is, I’ve been fighting — hard. Fighting against negativity and pessimism. Fighting against the pull into a not-so-great place. Fighting to remember the good stuff and express gratitude for all that I do have. I know that this is an area that I often suck in, so I’ve been particularly mindful of it lately. Especially since CBG flat out told me how negative I was being. Ouch. It hurt to hear, but he was absolutely right.

One of the things that I’d always kept in my personal arsenal of positive mental health is a trusty journal. I was once a dedicated journaler; it helped me get through a number of particularly trying times in my life. But it’s something that has totally fallen by the wayside in the past few years; I simply haven’t made the time or effort to do this small thing for myself.

Back in January I decided that I would start making an effort to journal once again. I bought myself a notebook and I started writing. As I wrote, I forgot about the sweet mental and emotional release that journaling can provide. I wrote until I felt completely emptied out, just like in the old days. Expressing myself through the written word has always been my most effective way of communication.

Since then, I’ve been making an effort to take some time once or twice a week to spill my thoughts and feelings on paper in my old-school journal notebook. It helps me to organize my thoughts, get in touch with my feelings, and just express whatever demands to be expressed in a safe place. No fear, no judgment, no holding back.

In a lot of ways, it’s a relief to go back there. Back to basics, back to something that was once a huge part of cultivating my own mental and emotional health. I’m not sure why I ever stopped to begin with, but now that I’ve gone back, I plan on sticking here for a good long while. It may not fix all of my issues, but it sure as hell helps.

A lot.

The Gift of Motherhood

On Sunday,  Lil’ Mo turned 10 years old. She was at her dad’s on the weekend, so although we stopped by his house on Sunday morning for some quick birthday hugs and kisses, we waited until last night to have her officially family birthday celebration at our house.

Our family tradition is that the birthday person gets to choose whatever they want for the meal. Her pick was home made sushi, which I usually only ever make a few times a year. For dessert, we had molten lava cakes and ice cream.

This year I was particularly excited about her birthday gift. I got a spark of inspiration back in January and decided to run with it. In the past year or so, Lil’ Mo has gotten particularly interested in cooking. Thanks to shows like MasterChef, and particularly MasterChef Junior, she has seen some pretty impressive work in the kitchen by others, in many cases by kids her own age and even younger. I’m a decent cook myself, and for the past few months I’ve been doing my best to teach her a few things in the kitchen we have the opportunity. She’s been soaking up all the information like a sponge, and has shown that she definitely has some natural ability there, too.

For her birthday we gave her a chef’s starter kit: A beginner kid’s cookbook, her own set of chef’s knives, pot holders, a cut-resistant glove (she’s nervous to use sharp knives) and her very own genuine chef’s apron with her name embroidered on it.

When she opened up the gift last night she was over the moon. She was particularly impressed with the chef’s apron (“They’re just like the kind they wear on MasterChef!”) and her own cookbook with lots of recipes and cooking information. I don’t remember how many times she thanked me for the gift, and told me, “This is so great because this is something I never would have thought to ask for, but I love it!”

I think a lot about the adults that my daughters will one day become. It’s still a long way off, of course, but I also realize that who they will ultimately become is being shaped and molded by the things that are happening to them now. It’s not my job to try and force my daughters into certain roles; it’s my job to give them the opportunities to explore their interests and figure out for themselves which direction they should go in.

Perhaps Lil’ Mo will grow up to someday become a successful chef. Or maybe she’ll just like to dabble in the kitchen, making delicious meals for her family. Or maybe in a couple of months, she’ll abandon the whole thing altogether. No one really knows. That’s the beauty of life and the exciting thing about being young; life can go in any number of directions. But you can bet your butt that anytime my girls show an interest in giving something a try, I will do my best to support and encourage it. Eventually one of those things is going to lead to their future passion or future career. It’s exciting to think that I will have helped both encourage that, and given her the space to discover it all on her own.

It seems like every single day I am reminded of what a gift motherhood is.

 

The Husband That I Used to Know

It’s been a pretty rough few months, as I’ve written about previously. More than once, even. The good news is that it feels like CBG and I have finally turned a corner. We’ve both been making a lot of effort — with ourselves, with each other, and with our marriage, and it is obviously paying off.

I can say without hesitation that the biggest improvement has come with CBG’s treatment of his depression, specifically the medication. I’ll be honest — I was never that successful with anti-depressants myself in the past, and I didn’t hold out much hope for how they would help him.

Boy, was I wrong.

It’s like a switch has been flipped in his brain (and I guess in some ways, it has been), and I’ve gotten back the CBG that he used to be. The guy who has a zest for life. The guy who laughs easily. The guy who lets me know every single day how much he loves me. The guy who is willing to get out there and do what he needs to do to grow and become a better person. The guy who is humbly able to look at where he’s falling a little bit short and do whatever it takes to get where he needs to be. The guy who wants to do better, and be a better version of himself — always. The guy who isn’t scared of a little hard work. The guy who brings out the best in me.

He was in there all along…it was just that things got clouded for a while. And I know that we still have a long way to go in terms of his treatment and recovery and when it comes to our marriage, but lately I am feeling something that I haven’t felt much of in the past several months: hope.

CBG was gone for a while, but he’s back. And I couldn’t be happier to see him.

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