Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Showers, Beer, and Social Networking--Oh, My

In my fantasy life, I dream of having just one normal day.  Just one.

While I was in the shower yesterday, reaching for the shampoo I saw this: 

Being a parent of two college-aged kids, I found this inappropriate on more than one level.  First, Yuengling is a crappy beer.  As an IPA Enthusiast, I thought my kids knew better.  Second, glass in the shower, not so smart.

So then I did what any normal mom would do in this situation:  I snapped a photo and posted it on Facebook.

When Older Son was in the kitchen making his morning coffee (at 1:30 pm), he told me to remove the photo from Facebook.  

Me:  Sorry.  I have the right to freedom of speech.

Him:  Freedom of speech is a privilege. Take it off. It’s embarrassing.

Me:  Sorry. It’s a right for the woman who pushed you through her body.   I mean, think of shitting out a bowling ball. 

Him:  (looking at me, sadly)  This conversation reminds me of a scene in a movie that’s trying to show just how crazy the mom is. 

Me:  Point taken.  But  it was like pushing out a 10 pound bowling ball! That means I’ve earned some rights and privileges in this family.

Him:  (looking at me, sadly).

Thursday, June 12, 2014

Conscious Uncoupling Schmuckeling

It’s early in the evening and we’re seated across the table from one another. Our laptops are open, our glasses of Stone IPA, full. For a moment, he lifts his up his Mac and shows me a viral photo on Facebook. We both laugh.

 In my fantasy life, the man across from me would close his computer. He’d take my hand and gently lead me upstairs. We’d put on some Miles Davis, whisper to one another in the dark, and fall into a deep sleep. There would, of course, be other things in between.

But this is how it will be in reality: we’ll close our laptops and go upstairs, he to his room, I to mine. I’ll crawl in bed alone and watch an episode of Chopped on my laptop; he’ll crawl into bed alone and call his girlfriend on his cell.

This is not a bad thing. Nor is it a sad thing. It just is. The man sitting across from me, my housemate, is my ex-husband. We have a conscious uncoupling arrangement. Gwyneth may have popularized the phrase, but I started doing it first. By default, if truth be told.

Six years ago, I decided we needed to separate. At that time, we hadn’t talked (besides information-gathering about our kids) for two years. We’d seen three different marriage counselors—none helped. While breaking up my family was something I abhorred doing, the situation had become intolerable. 

Like most break ups, it was rough. Our kids were inconsolable and my mother was depressed. We faced financial hardships, we faced emotional heartache, and we felt anger and hatred that reasonable people should never have to feel. And even though I had lived on my own for a time, we ended up cohabitating again. This was due both to our commitment to co-parenting and out of financial necessity.

But neither explain these: I've gone with him and the kids to his family’s place in New York for Thanksgiving; he visits my mom and aunt regularly; we sit together at our son's sporting events; and, like tonight. we drink IPAs together in the evening.

In spite of our divorce, we do things together for our family. And perhaps, for ourselves. I know what you maybe thinking: they still have feelings for one another. We do. Unless there is lying, or cheating, or some type of abuse in a relationship, how could one not?

You see, in the past 20 some years, I’ve never spent a Christmas morning without him. We built a life together; we have a shared history. And we celebrate that.

But we’ve also moved on. This past December, we had my family over as usual on Christmas Eve. They’ve grown to accept this “unusual” situation, continuing to give my ex the same amount of money damn them as they give me. On Christmas day, we opened gifts with our kids, had breakfast, and then he took off to his girlfriend’s and I made dinner for my kids and my man friend.

It's true. I have a man. We’ve been together for five years now. My ex and his partner for two. Oddly enough, they understand the complicated nature of family and finances, and they’re okay with the situation. There’s even been numerous times when the four of us have been together at social events. One time last June while we were all together preparing for our daughter’s graduation party at the house, I accidentally said to my ex, “Honey, would you get the ice?” His girlfriend smiled.

Yes, Virginia, there can be more than one honey in this world. Just as the concept of family has grown to something larger than a nuclear one, so has the concept of divorce.

There are times, too numerous to count, when I pray wish my ex would take his 1972 Cadillac and 3,000 vinyl albums and move in with his girlfriend. Stay tuned for those stories where I won't be so kind.

But, tonight we’re here, together, in our house. And tomorrow when I’m too hungover tired to get out of bed, I’ll ask him to get up and drive our son to baseball practice. And he will.

Sunday, June 16, 2013

Longing For Those Good Old (Sticky) Days

Have you seen that scene in Bridesmaids where the mom of three complains about her boys mausterbating all over the house? I love that scene. It's a relief to finally hear someone tell the truth about kids.

At 17 and 15 mine are past that sticky blanket phase, but we got other things going on. Daughter convinced me that buying one of those tall cans of Arizona iced tea and getting one free was a good deal.  I'm not really in favor of buying drinks with no nutritional value, except beer, but I agreed.

The following day, her younger brother expressed interest in the second can and I told him he could have it.

When Daughter discovered this she went .... well...wacko.  Somehow she thought it had her name on it. But we checked and it didn't.

Her:  (to her younger brother) That's mine.  I put it in the fridge to get cold.

Him:  Nope.  It's mine now.

Her: Give it to me.

Him: (sipping) Ummm. It's good.

Her:  Mom!

Me: (the sound of a mom ignoring)

Her:  Give me half!

Him: Get a glass.

Her:  You get a glass.

Him: You get a glass.

Her:  Mom, bring me a glass!

Me: (the sound of a mom hiding)

Her:  Give it to me now!

Him: (savoring) Ahhh. So refreshing!

Her:  (the sound of her nearly 18-year old hands dumping a bowl of Fruit Loops* on her brother's chest)

Him: (the sound of his 6'2" frame covered with milk and cereal bits escaping out of the front door)

Her: (the sound of her 6'1 frame bolting to lock the front door.  And then the back door)

Him: (no sound,  just outside prancing like John Cleese in front of the kitchen window miming his complete enjoyment in drinking the iced tea. His iced tea.

Me: (out of hiding and holding my gut with laughter)

Her:  (screaming at me) If you don't stop laughing I will...I will push you!!!!

Oldest Son Emerging From Basement:  You really should do something about this, mom.

Me: Is it 5 o' clock yet?

Food and Drink addictions are serious things, folks.  And so is living with kids.

*I didn't buy the Fruit Loops.  My ex (who lives with us) got 2 boxes free and I had to hide one box from Daughter, as you can imagine.  Clearly getting free stuff isn't worth it.

Friday, May 17, 2013

Micro Brews, Spinach and Ex-husbands

What was I talking about?  Oh yeah, encouraging my kids to eat drugs. Well, here's another subject I get a D- in: Arguing in Front of the Children.

As I mentioned, my ex-husband and I still live together.  It's called birdnesting.  The idea is, that since the kids didn't get a divorce, they shouldn't be shuffled from place to place.  With birdnesting, the kids stay in the house, and the parents take turns staying with them.  Only we don't take turns.  Cause we  can't afford it  think it's better for the family.  We each have our separate rooms, but occasionally have a micro-brew together.

The other day I joined him and Daughter on the deck.  The two of them were talking about school and she said something to which he expressed doubt. And if there's one button that Ex can push, it's my Doubt Button.  So to my utter and complete surprise...the PAST came up.  It came up cause I brought it up.

The PAST (combined with a few micro-brews) goes something like this:

Remember when you told your old girlfriend that she was crazy and couldn't have possibly owned a particular make and model car?  Remember?  Cause you said they didn't make them that year.  And so rather than drop the argument, she drove you to a dealership to prove it.  And you were so wrong!!!!

Or the time you doubted me about my brother's first name.  I looked at Daughter.  Your dad once told me my brother's name couldn't be Jack.  It had to be John.  Jack was a nickname, he'd insisted. So I called your grandma, asked her what Jack's real first name was, and put the receiver to Dad's ear.  Proves your dad doesn't know jack.

Or the time, I turned back to Ex, you wouldn't believe the take-out salad I got was spinach.  You said it was too good to be spinach and that spinach wouldn't have such a bad reputation if it tasted so good.  It could so not be spinach, you'd said.  So I called the restaurant, asked what kind of salad I had just picked up and put the receiver to your ear.  It was sooo spinach!!!

You know how when the PAST comes up, it has a way of snowballing out of control.  And it did. It did cause I make it snowball out of control.

Or the time you refused to believe that some people wore pajamas to bed without underwear.  I swear I'm not making this up (oops, I think I just stole that from Dave Barry).  Do you recall how I polled my friends at the Barnes and Noble coffee shop and the results were 50/50.  He'd chalked it up to the fact I have weird friends.  I chalked it up to the fact that Irish Catholics are so out of touch.

Or how about that time, I went on, at the Hampton Inn in Dubois when you contended that queen size beds were bigger than king size.  They had to be bigger, you'd said knowingly, because the queen has more power in chess than the king.  That time the kids came to my aid with confirmation.  They know a king size bed when they're jumping on it.

I mean, really, with all that ammunition what could he say?

Here's what he said:

Why should I believe everything everyone tells me?  It's good to have healthy skepticism.

About Weapons of Mass Destruction in Iraq, I shrieked. Not spinach.  It just shows that you don't have trust in people.

Have confidence in yourself, he retorted.  You don't need to prove anything.

He was right.  So I left Daughter and Dad and went inside to find out the latest scandal in Downton Abbey Season 3.  OMG the baby will be christened a, a.... Catholic!


And so it goes.  Another Day in the Life.  I suck at not arguing in front of the kids. I suck at bringing up the past.  I suck cause I just plagiarized Vonnegut and the Beatles.

But honestly... the fact that Ex has always doubted me and now seems to doubt Daughter... is probably the one single reason he is an Ex.  To me, it shows a lack of trust.  And how can you have a relationship without trust?

This is something that still hurts.

A lot.

Something that doesn't exist in My Fantasy Life.