The Skin I’m In

Last night I dreamt that I was walking through a field and I came upon the enormous, shed skin of a python. According to the Internet, this means I am being reborn into something more suited to my growth.

I miss my family. The moments together, just being. A table full of snacks while we watched a movie. Spontaneous picnics in the park while the grown ups covertly sipped wine and watched the kids play, or lay on a blanket with a book. Sunday morning breakfasts with perfectly-cooked bacon.

These are the moments I have to re-create in my own little home. In my own little space with the children. These moments and more, uniquely ours. Things that only I can give to them. I need to make a list of all the ways we can share our time with meaning and connection. I want to be with them wholly in the precious space we have before they are grown, and gone.

What kind of mother am I as I parent alone? This incarnation of my mother-role feels completely different, now that there is only me. I have more stillness. More quiet space to think about what I want my relationships to look like with these amazing people who I am shaping. There is more weight to this role, because the balance is tipped. In the other house, there are two parents. I have to fill up that space all by myself. Who is this woman that I’ve become, who never imagined becoming a single parent?

She’s the woman who could take on a tent-camping adventure with three kids and turn it into a summer highlight.
Who wants very little time on devices and very much time sharing, and creating.
Who will teach her children how to cook.
Who is invested in the truth. In real emotion and expression.
Who wants to pass down the skills of her ancestors.
Who needs time in nature, all year round.
Who loves farmer’s markets and craft fairs.
The woman who visits pumpkin patches and maple farms.
The woman who loves books.
Who puts family first.
Who shows her daughters what strength, compassion and self-worth truly mean.
Who shows her son how to support and appreciate strong women.
Who will go to any lengths to protect her children.
Who only allows good people who are positive role models into the lives of her kids.
Who teaches her children the value of money.
Who teaches her children to be independent.
Who teaches her children to be vulnerable.

How do I create lasting memories with very limited resources?
How can I make a convertible sofa feel like a second home?
How do I grow from here, on my own steam, so I won’t always have to live in a one-bedroom apartment?
What do my children each need that I can uniquely give to them?
How can I trust that I am enough for them?

How can I forgive my children’s parents, and co-parent gracefully with them?

I didn’t realize how completely I’d have to re-define my life after this separation. Maybe I was too numb with shock to look that far ahead. Maybe there was a part of me still hoping that someone would realize they’d made a terrible mistake and everything would be forgiven. Maybe I didn’t realize how strange my reality would feel away from the shelter of my parents’ home, and the freedom of a summer schedule.

This life won’t be easy. These changes are huge, and unfair, but I’m clear and confident in the woman I am. I’ll make a home for the children, anywhere I end up. We’ll make new memories. I’ll keep finding ways to pay the bills, and make strides towards continued stability and security. I will thrive, as I have, and fall deeply in love with the person I’m becoming.

I’ll choose me, again and again and again.

Introducing The Nightcap

At the beginning of September, I invited those of you who are following my Facebook Page to join me live, from my new apartment, for a nightcap to toast my new life.

Your response kind of blew my mind. I feel encouraged to keep going with these live hangouts with you. At the end of the first live session, I invited your questions on life, love, sex, parenting, polyamory, and relationships, and I have some juicy ones to tackle when I return on September 24th at 9:00 pm EST.

To comment during the live cast make sure you’re watching via my Facebook Page between 9pm and 10pm EST. If you’re new to Facebook Live, this link is an awesome primer to help you figure it all out.

I’m off to Frontenac. That sounds like an adventure, doesn’t it? I’ve got a four day writing retreat with my awesome writing group, and I’m going to post a little something here each day. I can’t wait to be near a lake, with my heart wide open.

It’s not too late for more questions for the next Nightcap! You can email me right here with yours. I promise never to use your name, and to respect your privacy.

Here’s my first edition of The Nightcap, in case you missed it:

Let Me Go

Guess who is about to embark on four days of tent camping in Algonquin Park, with the company of her amazing children? I’m ending this insane summer on the perfect note, because I am most myself under a canopy of trees. Here’s a little something I banged out this afternoon in Starbucks, when I was supposed to be finishing up my work.

 

Let Me Go

Let me go into the forest,

and let the lake-fed rain wash clean these sins.

Let the fresh, rich scent of the pines clear my soul,

and the light of a million stars restore my faith.

 

Let me go into the forest,

My sweet babes in hand.

The babe I birthed, the daughters I forged,

And let them see me as I am;

Whole, and wholly capable.

 

Let me go into the forest,

that I may howl like the wolves,

tread lightly with the the fleetest fox-steps,

Leave no trace of the sorrow I have carried all these many years.

 

Let the dapple-leaf sunlight illuminate

this fire in my heart,

this whisper in my ear,

this yearning, so fathomless that I shall never be full

of this sweet and serendipitous life.

 

 

The Things I Do Instead


Instead of spending lazy Sunday mornings with a Paul Simon soundtrack while he fries up eggs and I watch from the kitchen island thumbing through magazines, I run. I tear through the streets of my childhood stomping grounds listening to driving beats, willing myself to run towards that place in the future where there’s more pleasure than pain. Sometimes I think I’ve arrived. Sometimes I realize there’s a long way to go.

Instead of stolen moments covered by iTunes playlists before a sweaty little boy clambers into bed between us, I now live a half-life with hours and hours to spend in bed, uninterrupted. Maybe some day I’ll be able to sleep through the night again. Sometimes there are interesting ways to spend those sleepless hours.

Instead of sending him that article I found, that new album I discovered, that crazy indie movie I saw a trailer for, I’m building a trove of treasure to enjoy in my own way, in my own time. My friends tell me that some day this won’t feel so lonely. That I’ll relish these new discoveries that I can enjoy all by myself.

Instead of texting him to tell him just about anything beyond pick up times and changes to the schedule I write it down. Occasionally, I write it here. Every once in a while I’ll send that text, but only if I’m sure I won’t regret it.

Instead of asking him for help, I am helping myself. I have more resources than I realized. Maybe it’s not always the best way, or the cheapest way, but it’s my way. It’s important that I realize that I don’t need anyone else.

Instead of wondering how she was able to completely erase me, not speak to me, not ask me about how the future should look, I sit quietly and wonder if I should still be waiting.

Instead of sobbing, I shed the occasional tear. There are plenty of reasons to be grateful and those tears won’t change a thing.

Instead of anger, I look at the worries I am moving away from. I’m responsible for everything now, and most of the time I feel like I can manage this.

Instead of wanting, I listen to new music at loud volumes while I drive. This fills me with the profound reassurance that just about everyone has felt the way I do, and many of us can turn that into something beautiful.

Instead of thinking about writing, I am writing.

Instead of fearing solitude, I sink deeply into it, like the way I settled into the cushions of that futon. The cover often slips off, but it’s easy enough to straighten it up.

Instead of getting everything all at once, I am combing carefully through thrift stores and garage sales for just the right pieces. Every time I get an itch to hit up the closest shop, I find a perfect something.

Instead of worrying and wondering, I am being. This is the greatest lesson from these last ten months. Life has tried to tell me how little control I have over anything beyond my own responses. I am finally learning to accept this.

Instead of wanting to change what happened, I am living my life. This new, strange life is full of possibility and enough shadow to make the light almost blinding some days.

Instead of mourning my family, I’m building a new one with my three beautiful children. The pack is smaller, but the love feels bigger somehow.

Instead of working, I lie on the beach sometimes.

Instead of dwelling on what has been taken from me, I am exploring everything that is now on offer. Some of it fits, some of it doesn’t, but everything feels worth trying.

Instead of feeling like I’ve failed, like I’m not gentle enough, or beautiful enough, like I’m not worthy of love, or family, or commitment…I’m folding my heart tenderly into me, managing it’s occasional fluttering before releasing it to the open sky again.

Sliding Backwards

I’m listening to Patrick Watson and you are everywhere. In every space I try to fill. In every breath I try to draw. Here’s another thing that was uniquely mine that I must reclaim. This music belongs to me. But then there’s a warm summer night full of rare city stars, the smell of you so close, your hand sturdy in mine and the haunting melodies that only you know how to love like I do.

How can you be gone?

No amount of running, or drinking, or kissing can change the fact that we have ended. I believed us to be limitless. Like mountains. Like the sky. I believed we were about to finally have a real shot, with all of the skeletons out of the closet. With all the truths told. I believed we both believed in us.

Now when I try to decide what to believe about us, I can’t find a single thread of truth beyond the untouchable fabric of our children.

That will be enough.

When I’m with my little souls, I feel like myself again. Alone, it’s like I don’t know this woman I’ve become. She’s like someone I once loved and lost touch with. There are wild places in those eyes, and fragility so intense I often feel like I have to hide her from the world. I know how to make her happy, and I feel intensely proud of that. It’s not as hard as you’ve come to believe.

Give her truth and transparency.

Honor her need for safety.

Feed her with beauty and natural places.

Never try to diminish her passion.

Trust that if you get even half her heart, she’s given you an entire universe, and she’s done so believing that you are worthy of such a gift.

How long does it take for this pain to fade? This pain of having loved you as wholly as I knew how, and yet still not enough? This pain of knowing you’ve found yourself reflected more perfectly in other places. This pain of what you have chosen over what you have turned away from. This pain of having to ring the doorbell of the house I once called home, where my entire family continues to live without me.

There is nothing fair about the end of love.

I will build an altar for the pieces of my heart. I’ll surround those fragments with flowers and honey, and treasures collected from the places I visit as I bleed out the memory of you. I will make an offering of the rest of my life. To move forward in truth, with love for myself, devotion to my children and the desire to wholly experience the few precious years I have left in this life.

Without you.

Without us.

Entirely mine.