I always knew I’d be a soccer mom. Sans minivan soccer mom that is. And last month, gearing up for futsal (indoor soccer) season, I found myself Googling “How are soccer shin guards supposed to fit?”
Turns out the six or so inches of shin my long-legged kid had exposed meant he’d outgrown his from the last field soccer season. So I ordered a youth medium (thanks, Amazon Prime!), except the medium was also too small, so then I ordered a youth large and we achieved the recommended amount of shin space that should be covered by the guards.
Fast forward to Spring season. Enter ice hockey.
I was rather surprised my son wanted to play. Ice hockey is hard as there’s a lot of coordination to master. But he begged to play, so I enrolled him in this awesome program the NHL does called Learn to Play. It’s a season of lessons for new players and they throw in head-to-toe gear, for free. That’s a huge savings for parents!
Today, the Google answer was “Boys aged five and up, reaching 4 feet 6 inches and 80 pounds should wear a cup 1 3/4 inches in depth.”
Yep, the Google question over lunch break today was “how to buy your son a cup”, which he refers to as a “penis protector”. As in, Hey Mom, can you please buy me a penis protector?
Next I suppose I’ll need to Google how to teach your son to wear an athletic supporter”. I did ask my boyfriend, hoping he would save me some time and add some giggles. He replied that it was very simple – you just strap it on.
Whatever it takes. Bring on the hockey. Momma’s got this!
Spring Break is almost here, and I have no plan. It’s so unlike me!
I’ve been focused on other things, like sorting out my finances and getting the summer schedule in order. I reserved summer camp spots and placed deposits for that. I got my follow-up MRIs and CTs done — got the “all clear” as they say!
I filed my taxes. Like before the IRS even started processing them. Which is awesome, because I also already have my return deposited into my bank account, which I knew would help me mentally prepare for Spring Break travel expenses.
The thing is, once I saw how summer would unravel (family time at the lake), and Thanksgiving (also at the lake), and Christmas (home to Florida), and the fact that I won’t have my son next Spring Break, the pressure started building. I feel like we have to do something super cool and different, something adventurous (within reason for a single Mom and 7-year-old, of course).
I considered flying us out to Colorado, but the flights aren’t cheap. I scoured the internet for all inclusive travel deals, anything tropical and family friendly – nothing during the Easter time frame.
And as much as I would love, love, love to do a road trip to Montreal since my little guy just finished his school project on our Canadian heritage (eh?!), I started re-thinking that too, as it’s just too ambitious for a solo driver and one little boy who would be bored and driving me bonkers in the car for most of it. The boyfriend saying he probably can’t join us (work, you know) didn’t help either. So that one’s out the window (Montreal as a travel destination, not the boyfriend).
Which leaves me thinking…. New York State. We could probably manage that if I map out a decent route and find enough kid-friendly activities to do, as well as indoor options since it could be a rainy March/April. Most of the resources I’ve come across though are what to do in the Big City with kids, but I’m on the hunt for more active things to do and fun stuff to see in New York State instead.
Maybe we’ll start in the city with a show, but then, I want to get out and see more than that – the lakes, the mountains, wild life, hikes.
What do you recommend in New York for traveling with kids in tow? The Finger Lakes area? Catskills? What resources do you use for booking travel and places to stay? IloveNY.com? What do your kids love to do? Where’s the best place to tap some maple syrup?
Waiting on scan results is hard. Your mind starts to wander, you imagine the worst. You invent meaning in nuances. Did the radiologist add extra time to your scan because there was something extra to image?
Was the rad tech compassionate with you because she knows something you don’t (yet)?
You bargain. You play “if this, then that.” And you pray.
But you still have to wait.
And sometimes, if you’re lucky, that’s the hardest part.
When I think about that, it still makes my blood boil.
Don’t get me wrong, my life is amazing.
I’m happily divorced. If that’s a thing.
It was hard at first, but it got easier, then every aspect of my life got sweeter as time went by.
I love my life, I love my new partner, my son is happy, life is good.
But my ex still parents with me like everything is my fault. Like I’m the one who walked out the door with no plan. Like just because he found a nice girlfriend and flexible job and he wants everything to magically change to 50/50 and “fair” and “equal”, he should have it.
Life doesn’t work that way, and in our specific case, that’s not what’s best for our son, so co-parenting for us doesn’t work that way (or at all really?).
So here I am, left dealing with an ex who never apologized, refuses to take any responsibility for his part in our situation, and still continues to blame me for everything that happens.
Yep. Everything. No exaggeration needed.
Our son’s lunchbox is missing?
>>>>>> I’m a liar.
A school form was not scanned and sent to Dad?
>>>>> I’m a shitty Mom who should enjoy my hell.
I ask to borrow our son’s extra pair of soccer socks left at Dad’s house?
>>>> I’m a lazy mom who should do more laundry (and no, we can’t borrow his socks).
And on and on it goes. It doesn’t really matter what the context is. The only answers are (a) It’s my fault and (b) I did it intentionally to cause my ex harm because I’m a horrible person.
What’s funny (not haha funny) is that literally, my ex is the only person who knows me who would say anything negative about me as a mother.
How does that not just blow his mind?
I suppose because he probably never thinks about it.
He doesn’t consider how many people his behavior and bad choices have affected personally over the years. He doesn’t consider how many people – from family (both sides), friends, medical professionals, school staff, and others, who have witnessed him being a less than stellar person and father, first hand.
I know my ex loves our son. But love alone does not make someone a good parent.
And let’s get real. Everything is my fault.
He cheated because I wasn’t a good enough wife. It’s all my fault.
He lied because I was too difficult to talk to. Blame me for that.
He left because his life, a life most people would be grateful to live, didn’t make him happy. That’s my fault too.
If it weren’t for me, his life would be perfect.
What do I know. Maybe now his life is perfect, except he has to deal with me.
And as much as he wants to deflect his guilt, anger, and blame?
I’m not taking it on.
People who act the way he does don’t really change. They just get better at hiding the parts of themselves they don’t want others to see.
Summer fun has begun. The kids are livin’ it up at day camp running around like goblin sharks, covered head-to-toe in mineral sunscreen, we’re hitting up the pool every chance we get to hone in on those swimming skills, and we’re also enjoying our travels and making the most of our vacation days.
You know what else happens in the summer?
The inevitable regression in studies from the school year. Just this week, I asked my son to sit down and write a birthday card for his grandma. He was hesitant to spell words I know he knows, his handwriting was atrocious, and his concentration was well, a challenge.
I love the company’s mission – to make practicing math fun, and a family activity. Logic Roots designs its’ games with the goal of generating 20 times more math practice than the classroom, based on the idea that more practice = better math.
The goal of the Big Catch game is to save the lost fishermen by using division skills.
I noticed as we played that the concept of dividing up the fish and getting a remainder made sense and could sink in and help younger kids as part of an introduction to division. Or as was also the case for us, it served as a great reminder and memory boost for 10-year-olds.
The fishing/water theme of Big Catch is perfect too, as we’re about to head out for a week at the lake, with our new board game in tow.
Check out the other math games Logic Roots sells on Amazon – there are games for every stage of your child’s learning and development and grade level. And free colorful division worksheets that you can download too.
“Division to your rescue!”
This blog post was sponsored by Logic Roots to review their product(s). Please note that junegrace.com publishes posts from sponsors that may provide products and services and/or pay for placement, links, and reviews. June Grace only reviews products and services that are a good fit for the blog and hopes readers have the opportunity to learn about new brands. All opinions expressed are of the blog’s author, June Grace.
For Father’s Day, I helped my son pick out a card (he wanted the one with a cut-out airplane gliding across the front). I also took him to the store to pick out a little gift for his Dad. I explained that we had a budget he had to stay within, and that we could only buy one thing, but otherwise, it was completely up to him to select what he wanted for his Dad.
When we got home, I cut the wrapping paper that he picked and handed him each piece of tape so he could wrap the gift himself. I spelled out the words for him that he wanted to write on the card. He was so stinkin’ proud of his work, he just knew his Dad was going to love it.
A few weeks before Father’s Day, I started talking with my son about what the day means and why we celebrate our fathers. I asked him to think about 5 nice things he could say that would make his Dad smile, then we recited them together.
The day before Father’s Day, I asked him to add one thing to the list that he could do for his Dad. He picked “give him the strongest hug in the world.” He also asked to buy his Dad’s favorite cookies at the grocery store, and a special one that had “Awesome Dad” scrawled across the front in blue icing. So we did.
I helped him pack the goodies into his “Going to Daddy’s house” bag. He beamed with pride, he was soooooo excited to show his Daddy.
As I sent him out the door that day, I reminded him of the nice things he thought of to say and how much Daddy loves his hugs, and I sent him on his way, bag in hand.
I stood back and watched from the window as he had his Dad unpack the bag in my driveway. He just couldn’t wait another second!
His father and I don’t talk, we don’t really even look at each other anymore. Honestly, I hate him. But I love our son, and watching him really understand the meaning behind this special day and feeling proud of himself for coming up with such thoughtful ways to show his appreciation for his Dad, well, it’s worth it.
942 days ago it felt like my world came crashing down on me. From that day on, the life I had built over the previous 8 years of marriage would no longer be the life I would be living.
Well, my life would be the same. But my “world” wouldn’t be.
Life is what we experience each time we take a breath, when we feel alive just from looking into our children’s eyes or feeling their breath on our skin.
Life is literally every breath — the beginning and the end.
The world we live in, it’s what surrounds us, what we choose to do with our life (and some of what is chosen for us).
We don’t control life. We do control the world around us — the immediate environment we live in, who inhabits it, who we interact with, where we go, what we do for work, how we spend our time.
942 days ago, when my husband decided that the world we had built together was no longer what he wanted, it crushed me. But my life went on.
I was grateful to be alive and capable of creating an improved world for myself and my son. Just the year before, I was scared that I would die of cancer and leave my son motherless.
Maybe shedding a partner who was never capable of being there for me would be a blessing in the end.
Turns out, it was.
I found it was easier to breathe without him, after the initial sadness and anger passed. I realized how difficult it had been to be married to him, how hard I worked to keep my marriage intact. I just kept going because I didn’t realize I had a choice. I embraced the suck.
While catching the commuter train this morning, Miranda Lambert’s melodic voice filled my ear buds and unexpectedly brought me to tears.
I quickly swatted the tears away, but it got me thinking —
Lately, my life has resembled a country song.
My ex split when our son was three. He was barely there for our son those first few months, as he tried to figure himself out, hold on to his job, his affair partner, and grapple with his addictions.
In hindsight, he wasn’t around much before either, you know, because he was busy “working late.”
There I was, with a full-time job, health crisis of my own, and a little boy who wanted to know when Daddy was coming home, why Daddy left, why Daddy didn’t pick him up from school anymore, why, why, why.
Family flew into town to help me those first few weeks and it was still hard. I was in shock, stopped eating, and operated on auto-pilot at work and with friends.
My son did not adjust well, often clinging to my legs while I tried to make dinner, he was wetting the bed again, having nightmares, trying to nurse, he didn’t want to let me out of his grasp.
In a nutshell, it was regression and he also started showing signs of anxiety.
I gave our family dog to my best friend. That broke my heart too.
For so long, I separated the heartache I experienced during the aftermath of my ex leaving from everything else I had to contend with in my life. I pressed “pause” on the heartache and trudged ahead.
I had no idea how long it would take to get through my divorce and custody battle. More than two years went by, and we still weren’t divorced, nor did we have a court-approved visitation schedule.
I had my son full-time and we had a makeshift schedule where his Dad would come over to take him to school, and pick him up from school on other days for dinner visits, which eventually morphed into every other weekend sleepovers, always requiring 50+ emails back-and-forth to coordinate. Exhausting to say the least, but at least he was involved in his son’s life again.
During that time, I refinanced the house so we didn’t have to move and spent thousands of dollars and hundreds of hours preparing for our custody trial.
I took and failed a credentialing test I really needed for work (fail!), I spent a lot of time and stress trying to get into a different career field, thinking I would need the extra income, but it was not meant to be (fail!).
I underwent radiosurgery at a hospital out-of-state, a week before my son started elementary school and it was one of the scariest things I’ve ever done. I couldn’t have made it through that without the love and support of my family and loving boyfriend.
As you can see, life just never stopped hurling challenges our way. Not for a second.
No wonder I pushed down the heartache. But this morning, listening to that song, it came back to me and I remembered just how raw and devastating it all was — the heartache of being left.
It reminded me that it’s ok to reflect on how hard a period of your life was, and how much you went through, because you did it. You made it to the other side. I did that.
Here’s to reflection and the growth that comes from it. Thanks, Miranda.
One aspect of co-parenting with a high-conflict personality that’s challenging is that the advice you find online, and often in therapy, suggests the best way to deal with such a person is to leave and have no contact with them ever again.
It’s referred to as “no contact.” But with a co-parent, you can’t exactly do that.
You have kids to raise, together (in some shape or form, as is most often the case).
So you have to adapt the “no contact” rule to “low contact.”
You have to ignore everything that is not directly related to co-parenting your children.
It’s hard, I know. I live it.
I try to only respond to communications that are directly related to our child or aspects of parenting that are covered under our custody guidelines.
That’s usually stuff like health updates, any important behavioral problems, coordinating school forms, or basic questions about who has the rain boots, what time karate ends, etc. Any other messages, especially ones that attack my parenting style and are blatantly untrue, I completely ignore.
When I receive messages from my ex that are unpleasant, I try telling myself, “nothing I respond with will make a difference. My words will only be used against me in ways that rational people like myself couldn’t even begin to predict.”
That’s because I’m not crazy and I can’t think like a narcissist all the time (it’s a good thing, really).
And it’s true, it doesn’t matter what you say to defend yourself. You know the truth and even when you present legit evidence, it still won’t convince your ex that his truth is wrong. Keep the evidence and file it away for when you go back to court, but don’t engage in banter with him about it.
It can make you feel out of control to receive communications from your ex because you feel like you just want to set things straight, or you don’t want to have conflict, or you are so enraged by the lies. But the only control you have is in deciding how to respond, and more often than not, the power lies in not responding at all.
Narcissists hate to be ignored. Like really hate it.
Back in undergrad, we learned about behavior modification. I try to go back to the examples we observed while training lab rats. Basic reinforcement stuff, like the quickest way to get rid of an undesired behavior is to give absolutely no reaction (positive, or negative).
You’ve probably learned this from raising kids too. Apply the same theory to managing your reactions and responses to your ex’s behavior and/or communications. Don’t be baited.
I do still get messages from my ex that seem relevant, so I’ll answer, but then it later becomes clear that it’s just my ex being difficult, or lies. Once it hits me, I then switch the flip to “ignore,” and try not to beat myself up too badly about it.
I also read a lot about co-parenting with a high-conflict individual. And I keep reading about it as a reminder, because I find the busier I get and the more time that passes, I can easily fall back into my old pattern of approaching communications with my ex, and you absolutely cannot do this. It’s low contact for good.
Check out author Shadida Arabi if you need a good place to start on reading material.