The Parting Gift

She tried. She gave it her best effort. If you know her or if you’ve heard of her then you know her best effort contained thought, action, love, maybe even a few tears and lot of her emotions as well as time. He tried. He gave her his time, shared his space, and fed her body and spirit. It just didn’t work out. That’s the thing about relationships sometimes they don’t work out. 

Where did things go wrong? They never went wrong. Things just never went completely right. They laughed, held hands, had inside jokes and shared special moments. She prayed for him. He encouraged her. All the stars seemed to have lined up. Maybe it was her insecurities or could it have been his inability to let go of the past? Perhaps she wanted more than he was willing to give. It could have been as simple as they both lost interest. Either way, whatever the reason it was over. Neither of them had verbalized their unwillingness to move forward. Their actions told the story. The time between phone calls and dates became fewer reminiscent of a couple who had been married for decades. Text messages were scattered throughout the week like the first fallen leaves in autumn.

He was kind enough to provide her with a parting gift. He did not refer to it as such but in her mind that’s what it was. For him it was a well thought out gift that she would enjoy for years to come. A gift that would bring a smile to her face and create gratitude to her heart. For her it was a parting gift which is never to be confused with a consolation prize. Neither of them were losers who needed consoling but winners who would separately celebrate the opportunity they had to get to know each other. One last hug. One last look into each other’s eyes. One last goodbye. No broken hearts. No tears to shed. No sad songs or movies. No dramatic ending. They were two people who shared a moment in time that they may or may not fully recall in a few years. 

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13

That’s the number of years it’s been since I first laid eyes on her. My daughter, my honeygirl, my image, my hope realized. I love her with all of me. I love all of my children but my relationship with her is different. She is my only daughter and we “get” each other. We talk with our eyes, slight head movements, half smiles and certain looks. We speak the same none language. We are not best friends. I’m her mom, her guidance, her boundaries, her gauge, her disciplinarian and her sounding board. I’m honored that she wants me in her life. She insists that I become friends with the moms of her friends. I’ve heard her tell friends she has the best or coolest mom ever. 

I didn’t have a great relationship with my mom growing up. I would never have referred to her as the best mom ever. I was never sure I could get this mother daughter thing right. Right for me was better than what I grew up with. But I’m getting it right. We are getting it right. I cherish every moment I get to spend being her mom. 

Happy Birthday Honeygirl!

I call it…love

It’s like a west Texas dust storm rolling in
You feel it before you see it
The atmosphere changes
There is a stillness in the air
You know something is there
Like my grandmother use to say
“I can feel it in my bones”
Or like an electrical storm
You want to be afraid of it
But it’s holding you captive
You know the danger
But your curiosity and intrigue keep you in place
You stand there in the midst of the tornado
Oblivious to all of the devastation occurring around you
Only thing that matters is the feeling
It’s captivating
It’s freeing
It’s life giving
It’s makes you want to give your life
It makes you want to change your life
It makes you want to create life
We seek it
We search for it
We long to befriend it
Don’t fear it
Embrace it for all that it is
It’s simple yet powerful
It has a name
When you say it
Say it with reverence
Love
Simple yet complex
Love
It tames the beast
Love
It makes a man want to fight
Love
It brings tears to your eyes
Love
It motivates and inspires
Love, love, love

Lessons I’ve learned since the divorce

I’ve been divorced for almost four years now. In that time I’ve done a lot of soul-searching, reviewing my choices, and thinking about my life then and now. Every story has a few authors. My failed marriage will be authored by him, the kids and me. Since this is my blog and I hold the pen, you will receive my version. Now, this post is not about my marriage per se but more about the lessons I’ve learned. I’m a contemplator so I’ve thought about this, I’m a woman so I’ve discussed this, I’m a believer so I’ve prayed about this and I’m a student so I’ve studied this.

I try my best to speak well of my ex in front of our children. He is the father of our four beautiful children. If I can’t think of anything positive to say, I revert back to the old teaching and say nothing at all. If out of anger or frustration I say something and the kids are around, I apologize to them. They love their dad and I want to provide an environment where respect, love and honor are encouraged (insert required). Vent to your journal, counselor, friends, coworkers, bartenders, clergy or even the person sitting next to you on your commute but not your children. Besides, the more time you spend talking about people you are mad at, the less time you have to do something positive. There are only 24 hours in a day. How many will you spend on negativity? That was my first lesson.

Respect is not earned it’s given. I’m reading a book titled, Love & Respect by Dr. Emerson Eggerichs. A couple of months after my divorce was final I attended a marriage conference at my church. I truly believe that if we had attended this conference or read this book before we got married or early on then a lot of the decisions, thoughts and actions would have been different. When you know better you do better, right? Society has taught us that love is the key to relationships. We freely provide all the love one needs. However, we are also taught that respect is earned. That is simply not true. Respect should be given as freely as love. Men want and need to be respected. I know some of the women reading this are about to tune me out. Keep reading! Don’t start listing all the reasons he doesn’t deserve your respect. Think about this, what if in the heat of a discussion with your man he turns to you and says, I respect you but you will have to earn my love. Pump the breaks! What? Think about the number of times you’ve used the opposite phrase, I love you but you will have to earn my respect. It has the same devastating affect on them. Respect is not earned just like love is not earned. I didn’t know. I was having a discussion (argument) with the ex one day and he said the first time he called me a horrible name was right after I told him he was not a good provider. When he called me that name that was the ultimate in disrespect and zero love in my mind. It was the same for him only I couldn’t see that. He worked long hours so I could stay home with the kids. We struggled financially at times but he was trying. When I told him he was a terrible provider I’m sure he saw me as ungrateful and disrespecting. I didn’t know better at the time but now I do. I’m very conscientious to acknowledge anything anybody does for me. I’ve shared these principles with women who have come my way wanting to discuss divorce. I always ask, are you showing him respect? If not, try this…and I provide examples of what respect looks like, according to the book, to a man. That was lesson two.

I am not superwoman or every woman. I love the songs but in real life, I need help. I don’t allow my pride or ego to keep me from receiving or asking for help. A few months ago I was taking the Stud Muffin and Little Dude to their athletic games. I drove two blocks and realized I had a flat tire. I turned around and went back home. Apparently a neighbor saw the flat and pointed it out to her husband. He jumped in his truck came to my house and filled my tire with enough air so I could get the tire repaired. In the mean time I called their dad who met me at the tire repair shop so he could take the boys to their games. I have roadside assistance because I, quite frankly, don’t know how to change a tire. I could have told the neighbor I didn’t need his assistance and the boys could have missed their games so I could keep my independence or pride. Whatever! Those action do not bear good fruit. Asking for and accepting help takes more inner strength than not. The boys saw this neighbor helping their mother, they saw their mother receiving assistance and they saw their dad and mom working together for their benefit. That’s good fruit and lesson three.

Dating post divorce with young kids is doable but should be done with caution and wisdom. I’ve mentioned online dating in some previous posts. I met and dated another guy but that didn’t work out either. I realize that I want a relationship. After all, we were created for relationship. But I don’t want to date a lot of men. When I say date I really mean date as in go to a location such as movie, restaurant or hear a band play. I don’t bring strangers to my house and they don’t get to meet my children. I am a mother bear when it comes to my children and our home. When I created a profile for the online dating site, I used a completely different city in a different county. I also always meet at a crowded place and made sure to never drive straight home. I would stop and park at several places and take a back road home to ensure I was not being followed. A healthy amount of paranoia is okay. I have a friend that would only date her now husband if they had a chaperone. They were both divorced and had children but they were determined to have a courtship and keep to themselves until they were married. Determine your dating requirements and stick to them. That concludes lesson four.

I have also come to realize I have the capacity to trust again. Do not take that lightly. Trust is difficult when you have experienced heartbreak and when people have disappointed you. I have a cousin who taught me a valuable lesson years ago about trust. It was Mother’s Day and right after church service the family members were all discussing where they wanted to eat. I looked over and this cousin was standing to the side not voicing her opinion. Her husband was a part of the discussion. I walked over and asked her why she wasn’t giving her input. She said, “I trust my husband. He’s not going to take me anywhere I don’t want to go.” Whoa… what?!? I was reminding her of that conversation yesterday and she said, “where ever he goes is where I want to be.” Hhhhmmm. I like it! There is nothing wrong with having an opinion and there is nothing wrong with expressing your preference. The topic here is about trust. Focus on the trust she was exhibiting in him. One couple I know, when they first started dating, would order dinner for each other. This was their way of getting to know each other and building a foundation of trust. Trust is a small word but has a huge impact. Lesson five.

I have lots of other lessons that I’ve learned along this journey to healing but I will save those for another day. Spend some time contemplating these five.

Be well, healthy and whole.