Thankful Thursday: Leaving On A Jet Plane Edition

Welcome to another Thankful Thursday. Today I will be flying to another coast. It will be a long day, but Hubs will be with me. I’m hoping we can enjoy just being with each other for the journey.

At the destination, I will be meeting people I’ve never met before, but feel like I already know them. It’s a long awaited reunion. I really cannot divulge too much about it, but one day I hope I can.

I am thankful for this trip and some much needed time to enjoy a new experience with the man I love!

Love and blessings to everyone!

Still Standing

Since the decision to stop chasing the dream of pregnancy and motherhood in my close to mid-forties, I’ve done a whole lot of…  Well, I have not done much of anything really. 

The weekend that I made my decision, I did what any well-adjusted, mature adult would do:  I drank. Don’t get me wrong. I didn’t get fall down, stumble drunk or submerge myself into a month of lost weekends, but I have been enjoying beer, wine and other spirits a little more often instead of yielding to moderation in deference to my dwindling fertility. I’ve also been eating.  I’ve enjoyed pastries, fried food, and chocolate… all the fun stuff that I have normally shied away from while trying to keep my body in prime baby shape. Then, of course, I’ve been partaking in more than my fair share of caffeine. I have to say that Hubs has been enjoying my little dalliance into the land of things once forbidden, but tighter fitting pants are telling it’s time to stop.  I’ve had my hoorah; it’s not going to fill the baby-sized holes in my heart.  I must go back to moderation and self-care, only this time without the baby in mind.  Now it’s just for me.

M-day weekend was actually quite relaxing. It was just Hubs, my in-laws, and me.  We went out to dinner on Saturday night and sat around Sunday playing cards and talking.  It was all very low key, which was just fine with me. I did make the mistake of pulling out some old photographs of Hubs and Skid. I had an idea for a project for a relative and was looking for some very specific photographs. They were photographs I knew well.  I’d been through them before. Studying every line of Skid’s adorable little face as an infant, a toddler, and so on, yearning for some connection to memories that have absolutely nothing to do with me.  These were taken long before I came into the picture, so they often leave me feeling like I’m on the outside looking in.

Pulling out shot after adorable shot got me feeling sadder and sadder with each view. Finally, I came across one picture of a toddler Skid crouched down next to Hubs feeding some ducks.  The look on Hubs face in this picture reduced me to tears. He looked like a quintessential dad: loving and gentle, yet protective. A little voice inside of me said, “I really wanted a child with this man.”  In one quick second, any questions I might of have had about my mad, mad rush to get pregnant one more time evaporated.  It was not because I was selfish. It wasn’t because I wanted something I couldn’t have just because others could.  I truly wanted a child with my husband.  It was all at once reassuring and heartbreaking.   

Which leaves me to my current status of doing little to not much, instead I’ve been paying attention to the signs around me, the pain I feel, and when and where I’m at peace. I’m noting where work needs to be done and the expectations that I had for my life, myself, and my family that need to be released. I’m not ready to dive headlong into any self-improvement projects, nor do I feel the need to go rushing in and try to “fix” the aches and pains of my stepfamily. Tackling what seems logical at this point may not be right in the long run. I don’t want to chase any red herrings. For now, I’m content to just observe and feel – as painful as the feelings may be. 

I did something similar to this just before my first husband “K” and I got married. About a month or so after our engagement, K asked me to accompany him an annual visit to his cardiologist.  Since the appointment was on a Monday in Boston, he decided we’d make a long weekend of it.  We stayed at a hotel, attended a concert, and ate one of our favorite restaurants, all in all a very fun weekend.  When Monday rolled around I thought nothing of this “routine” appointment.  The day was a lot of “hurry up and wait.”  By the time we got into the exam room, I was ready to go home. For my benefit the doctor provided a lot more supporting detail in this visit than I suspect that he normally would have.  He stated the current size of the K’s aortic tear and where the “trigger point” would be for when it was time for him to get it repaired.  At that visit he was looking good, and it would not be for a while, but for good measure he went over the potential risks of undergoing such a surgery.  I don’t recall what all of them were, but words like “death” and “permanent paralysis” stuck out in my mind.   

When we left the office, the narrow corridors felt like they were closing in on me.  I sped down the hall to get to the much airier space of the building that held the banks of elevators.  I could not get enough air into my lungs.  When K caught up to me, he took me by the shoulders and found a space of wall that I could lean against.  “I know that was hard,” he told me, “but you need to know what might happen.  I want you to understand what you’re getting into.”   K was always a wise one.  He knew he had to show me, not just tell me the hard truth. It was the only way for it to sink in.

I spent the next day puttering around our duplex apartment.  I was in between jobs, so I had the luxury of time. I could absorb the news from the day before without any distractions. I carried a notebook and a pen with me all day, and wrote down anything that came to my mind that would help me prepare for whatever my future was to bring me. Some were practical things as simple as compiling a list of local hotels and restaurants near the hospital to creating a phone tree for friends and family to keep updated on during the surgery and recovery. I made list of things we would need to bring to the hospital should the time come. Things to keep me occupied. Things to keep K’s spirits up. I listed who I would need around me for support. Other notes were reminders that took into account my shortcomings during times of stress, “Remember, it’s not just you.  Focus on others.”  The notes went on throughout the day. In the six years before we got the trigger point, the list was added to here and there.  But the original list from that day is what I referred to most when the time came for the surgery.  It kept me focused and sane during one of the most stressful times of my life.  It allowed me to have reserves of strength I would not have had otherwise.  Reserves I called upon after he died. I don’t think I would have gotten through if I had not taken the time for myself to really think things through.

I feel like this newest chapter in my life requires the same approach. This is not something to go lightly into. I don’t feel that I need to reassure myself with reasons why it is better not have a child, because frankly many of the standard reasons either don’t exist or don’t outweigh my heart’s desire at the moment (and I’m not sure if they ever will). I won’t throw myself into hobbies or classes or make plans for long, luxurious trips because neither the money nor time is just not there, but I am earmarking possibilities for the future. Right now is just for being still and letting life speak to me. Like the song says, “After you done all you can, you just stand.”

Thankful Thursday: Short, Sweet, and Fragrant Edition

If I’ve been conspicuously silent lately it’s because I’m getting ready for a trip (1/4 of the trip is for pleasure, the rest is business) and working on a really cool project that has actually got me looking forward to Mother’s Day (miracle of miracles!). The details really cannot be divulged about either, but hopefully I can share in the future . So I will make today’s Thankful Thursday short and sweet.

This week’s blessing is an incredibly touching gesture made by Hubs this weekend.  He was taking advantage of a rare Saturday off and became inspired while working in the yard. When he came in from his work, he sat me down and said, “I have an idea that I’d like to propose to you.” You could say my interest was piqued; but it wasn’t. I knew how badly he wanted to see “The Avengers” that weekend, so I assumed that whatever plans he had in mind included a trip to the movie theater. I was wrong.  Instead, he said, “I’ve been thinking and I realized that I haven’t done anything to remember our babies, so what I’d like to do is plant two special colored Azaleas in the yard to memorialize them.  What do you think?”  

Of course I loved it, and agreed to it immediately. So now, among our row of fledgling red and white Azaleas in the back yard, two pink ones sit side-by-side in memory of Baby A and Baby M.

I’m incredibly thankful for my sweet, loving Hubs!

More Skin to Shed

Today I’m feeling more than frustrated.  I don’t think I can find the words to express how frustrating it is to have strong parental instincts when you don’t have children of your own.  As a stepmom, one of my biggest struggles is learning when to rein it in.  

Hubs and I have different parenting styles.  I’m more structured and focused down the road.  He’s flexible and in the moment.  If we had a child of our own, these differing perspectives might be extremely fruitful together: a Yin and Yang of parenthood.   However, given that Skid is not mine; I’m discovering that my ideas on parenting are often best left to myself.

Just this morning, we clashed over a common problem in our household: leaving things to the very last minute.  It doesn’t matter if it’s permission forms that need to be signed, school supplies needed for a project, or event entry fees, it more than likely comes to Hubs attention at zero hour.  Last night the problem reared its head more than once.  At 7:00 PM cups were needed for a class party the next day.  Then at 11:00 PM, permission slips AND donations were needed for a fund raiser at school. 

My mind wandered back to the last time this happened.  Skid wanted to try out for the basketball team.  Hubs was informed he’d have to fill out insurance paperwork and write out a check for physicals at 10:30 the night before they were due. I quickly scanned to papers and found out we would have to purchase an insurance policy and dig out immunization records to complete everything. We didn’t have the name of who to write a check to and neither of us had cash to cover the fee.  Needless to say, we were left scrambling to get it done.  Hubs was understandably upset.

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Thankful Thursday: Screaming Alien Aunt Experiment Edition

It’s another Thursday, so once again I’ll do a quick rundown of things for which I’ve felt grateful in the past week.

 The Scream

News broke this week that the last privately held version of Edvard Munch’s ‘The Scream‘ will be going up for auction. One of my favorite NPR call-in shows “On Point” turned its attention to the iconic work yesterday and spent an hour – an entire HOUR – discussing the painting’s impact on culture and how it speaks to the human experience. I love that this incredible piece of art can speak to so many.  There’s something about it that’s encouraging.  It shows me that we’re not that different after all. To listen a podcast of the show click here.

My Skid

Although I use this blog to discuss the challenges of being a stepmother, I can say that I am thankful for Skid. Watching Skid when we’re out with family brings a smile to my face. There is a humor and lightness to Skid’s demeanor and flashes of sheer joy when Skid doesn’t think anyone is looking, which are heartwarming to see.  It’s just that right now there are hurdles. We’re dealing with the teen years: years when it seems like an alien has invaded your home — a sulky, moody unpredictable alien who doesn’t like to clean or hang out with parental life forms.  I had a brief glimpse into a different scenario when Hubs and I were carrying on our long-distance romance.  At age 8, Skid would take every opportunity to hug and cuddle with me on those long weekend visits.  Things seemed to change once the ring was on my finger and Skid began straddling the threshold to adolescence.  I miss those days and am grateful for them, however brief they were.  The memory of them helps to keep my love for Skid alive  and fuels the hope that down the road a path might open up to bring our family closer together.

A Realization

I realized when reviewing comments I’ve made on this blog and others that I made an error.  I’ve mentioned that I am the only woman in the family without kids of her own and completely forgot my two aunts who don’t have children of their own (one my mother’s side and another on my father’s side). Both have pretty full lives.  I’m not sure if it is because both aunts are far away in Canada that contributed to my momentary memory lapse, but I’m a little ashamed that I disregarded them.  I don’t often share my blog with family members, so I don’t think that they’ll find out (whew!). However, it dawned on me that they may be sources of inspiration and advice.

The Erin Experiment

The Erin Experiment is a great blog written by one of the contributors to “Stepmom” magazine. She blogs about all aspects of her life — from being a stepmom to her commuter marriage and all things in-between. I really like Erin’s take on things, and it often seems that she and I are going through similar things at the same time. She looks at her life in a very positive and honest perspective, which I admire. I feel like she and I are kindred spirits.  If you have a moment, go check out her blog at www.erinexperiment.com.

Love and blessings to you!