Friday, January 1, 2016

Finding that magic parenting balance.

Sometimes it's so hard to be patient and to know where the line is between clear consistent expectations/not putting up with demands and whining vs. being flexible and compassionate and meeting them where they are at. MC was a real pain about staying in bed. Scared again. Dealing with another fear episode this week since watching Dr. Who with his big brother at Dad's house. I was impatient. I was cold and unyielding and uncaring. And then I changed my mind. He got out of bed, again, and came into the living room where I was reading with a cup of tea (finally by myself) shaking and whimpering and getting quite teary-eyed. I wasn't warm and lovey dovey about it, which perhaps I should have been, but I told him that if he made himself completely unnoticeable he could fall asleep here. "I don't want any sign that you are here," I told him. No talking. No noises. No wiggling. No looking around." He laid down and was perfectly still and quiet and asleep in just a minute or two without a peep or a single movement. Hard to know if I a) was too mean and should have been more compassionate, b) did the right thing, or c) caved and gave in to his demands. I think a or b. But it's so hard to find the right balance.

Saturday, December 5, 2015

Of mixed minds

What am I scared of? Lots of things. Yes, a big part of me is tired of this two household situation. I long to be able to fully "be" with my/our kids around me in a home that we all feel is ours. I feel like I would be more equipped to handle things in that scenario. I would appreciate the ability to have connecting time with my partner after we are done parenting at night. I would appreciate being able to cross paths with each other while still being productive in my own home. In other words he's doing one thing while I do another. And conversation goes in and out and there are looks and smiles and touches while still walking through the ordinary responsibilities of everyday life. As opposed to the way it is now where we're either together with no kids or most of the kids and neither one is very realistic. The no kids is nice but few and far between and the most of the kids is always in a sense of limbo or temporary. We are either ignoring them so we can steal moments alone while half of them aren't in their own home and have to entertain themselves or we are managing them but not in their own home. They aren't just living their own lives in their own homes, with a bedroom to go to for some quiet time or consequences or privileges related to that home.

Of course there's the logistical benefit of having only one home's worth of responsibilities and costs and all that. That's huge! And would cut down on stress, but this obviously shouldn't be a financial decision.

So what if he was to say (which I know he's not about to), let's move in together this summer. What would I say? I don't know. I'm worried about a lot of things. And at the same time, I'm also worried that I'm pushing us. I fear that subconsciously I pushed my ex into marriage. It's not like I nagged him to propose to me, but he knew that's what I wanted to happen, and he is/was one to just let life happen to him. I believe his affair happened to him in the same damn way. I don't want to be something that just happens to Gil. I want him to really desire being with me so badly that he is sick and tired of doing without me and wants to convince me we should be crazy and brave and live together with these six kids. But even if he was feeling that way, would I be ready? I'm scared of so many things besides the pushing issue.

I'm scared about money. How do we manage money in remarriage in a way that feels fair and supportive? I don't want to be seen as greedy and looking to be supported, but I also don't want to be with someone who wouldn't want to treat me as his equal and make a joint life for ourselves including finances. I worry about how we do this with six kids in a way that feels equal instead of the three kids who can afford things and the ones who can't.

I'm scared that I'll be jealous of his daughter who I see as unbelievably entitled who asks her father to do everything for her, and he puts up with it.

I'm scared that I'll lose the way I want to raise my boys regarding Shabbat. That I'll have to water things down to accommodate.

I'm scared that I don't want to compromise about the way I want to keep my house which is tidier and cleaner than his and that a) he won't help me keep it to that standard, b) I'll do the bulk of it and feel unappreciated, and/or c) even worse than doing the bulk of it, he'll act like we equally contribute to both messes and clean up. This fear is obviously a direct connection to my former marriage.

I'm scared that he has a few traits that could actually be big challenges down the road. He overpraises his kids, and he's too proud of them for little things. I don't Iike how he gives them dramatic kudos for such little things when their behavior in general has been fairly poor. His youngest is a challenge. There's a lot that I genuinely enjoy about the kiddo, but I find him perhaps even more challenging than my middle ever was. What is hardest for me is that Gil doesn't seem to recognize how he's challenging.  (Or when he does he is quick to make it look like they all have their challenges.) And his lack of acknowledgement is not just because he deals with it so well, but because I think he puts blinders on when it comes to his kids. I really don't think I put blinders on when it comes to my boys. I feel like as much as I love them I'm also probably the hardest on them. There's good and bad to that of course, but I recognize their missteps. It worries me that we would recognize my kids' challenges and not so much his. Or that he is quick to suggest that my boys will be like his teens later and I shouldn't be so proud of some demonstration of positive attitude or responsibility now, suggesting that there is the same trajectory when I know they haven't been on the same path up until this point.
It scares me the way he throws out compliments or affection to them immediately after being critical or at times when it doesn't seem sincere.  I know that he does love them like crazy, but sometimes it seems insincere and I don't want him to treat me that way.
One of the things that I continue to learn about myself is that I hate asking for things. I am so scared of asking for things (supportive acts) that I'm even scared of saying that I'm scared of asking for things because someone will then point out that I do occasionally ask for things and then I will feel like they think I'm on par with people who are always expecting people to do things for them rather than seeing me as someone who is self-reliant and doesn't take time money or energy from them. I can see how fucked up this is, but I don't know what to put in its place. What I want is to have people do things for me without being asked. And occasionally Gil does just that, and it makes my day. Like when he brought me a tea latte the morning I got home from my work trip late at night and had to get to work first thing on the AM. However, the more I observe others I am noticing the most obvious of truths that no one is taken care of without asking for it. Duh. It's the people who demand help from others who get taken care of. I can't think of a single example of someone who is frequently "taken care of" so to speak that doesn't out right ask for people to do things for them. And it's not always over the top obnoxious nor is the giving partner necessary always giving with the utmost enthusiasm. I was listening to my aunts and uncles chit chat and joke over Thanksgiving break and all the couples were talking about making their partners do things. One uncle was teasing my aunt (not particularly sweetly) about making him do some house project. It made me realize there is no help without asking for it. I know this is blatantly obvious, but it's a mountain for me to climb and comprehend. So how do I learn to ask for what I want without feeling vulnerable that I will be less lovable and worthy of love. How do I even have this conversation without my partner pointing out that I do occasionally ask for things and then me immediately feeling defensive and unappreciated for what I think I'm bringing to the relationship? I have to believe that the reasons my partner wants to be with me are other than my self-reliance and lack of demanding nature. Hard stuff.
I'm worried that I don't know when to bring stuff up that annoys me. You're not supposed to sweat the small stuff. I agree wholeheartedly. And if it's a character trait of someone's, than there's no point of being critical. And if it's not polite to point out others' shortcomings in housecleaning or other tasks. So for the great most part I just don't say anything critical. But this "passive positive" nature got me in trouble in my marriage. When is "not saying" something the road to problems?
Ok, past midnight. Must get some sleep.

Tuesday, December 1, 2015

Hello again

Where have 16 months gone? To love, parenting, work, and remodeling, in no particular order.

I'm still in love. Still have big questions and am scared about all sorts of things. But I sure did miss that man when I was just gone with my boys for five days to celebrate Thanksgiving and my father's 70th birthday. And when I see him again it makes my whole heart happy.

I am so grateful to have found him and to be sharing this adventure with him. And I'm getting awfully interested in exploring what the next step might hold. I don't like being apart. Not because I can't. I can. I would just rather blend life. At least theoretically. It does seem awfully messy and full of risk and uncertainty, but there are many moments when I think the benefits would outweigh the challenges.
But I also am scared of pushing. I am afraid that in the most subtle of ways I pushed my ex into marriage. I really didn't, but he was so passive, and he knew that's what I was thinking that he just opted for the easier path. I don't want to push this. I don't want to be the driver. I want to be wanted. But isn't it also important to say what you what sometimes?!? Of course I overthink everything.

I really should go see my therapist again. He said he would go see her with me so we can establish a baseline and also learn together how to tackle parenting challenges as we're working through them. Also, I want to figure out some professional stuff with her. I want to go about twice a month.

I also need to find a primary care doc, and I also need to fit exercise into my schedule and I also need to work really hard for the next three weeks at work.
How am I going to do it all?

Monday, August 25, 2014

Am I in love?

I just had an amazing weekend. Two days, three nights of vacation. Seeing places I have never seem before even though they are less than four hours from home. Incredible hikes and drives. Unbelievable cabins. Great company. It was so much fun. My girlfriends were pressuring me or details. First about the sex and then asking if I was in love. I avoided the sex answers immediately. (The sex was both incredible AND disappointing, a mix of both. I'm quite confident it is going to get better for a variety of reasons, though it will likely require me to communicate about it which won't be easy and will force me to grow.)
So, here's how I responded to the love question this AM:

"I'm scared to even think I know what love is. I don't think I do. You can't come out of a 12-year relationship where you thought you loved but realized you were actually in a disfunctional relationship without being very confused about what love is or isn't. I know that I want to tell him I love him, but instead say things like "I'm growing rather attached to you," or "I LIKE you D-------- G--------." I know that he is not PERFECT either as a human being or as a match, but that I am feeling very attached and extremely comfortable with him, and if suddenly he wasn't around it would leave a huge hole in my life. I don't know where that hard-to-see line is between recognizing that there is no perfect person and settling. I know I had the line in the wrong place last time, but oh well, that's how I got my boys and even with the troubles I wouldn't trade the years of love that I did feel for naught. I know that I want to be in the moment, but that I can't help but think of meeting his kids and future plans and trips together and shared grandchildren and the whole kit and kabooodle, and then I am terrified because thinking that way is not living in the moment, and I don't want to be attached for the wrong reasons and I don't want to be more attached then he is. But there's good evidence that he's feeling that way too. But he is a LOT like (my ex) in some ways, and that scares me. How much is to be expected and how much or which parts are red flags? There. That's the long answer.
As for sex. Some things about it were amazing. Other things not so much. The overall chemistry is great. So looks like I'm going to be challenged to learn how to communicate about sex, which is NOT easy.
There. Is everyone satisfied now? :). I love that you care and are thinking of me. You are good friends. :) I hope everyone has a good Monday."

Saturday, August 16, 2014

thoughts on emotional intimacy

Going to share this this evening with the man I've been dating...
Thoughts for this nice man I'm dating. First off, I'm not angry, upset, or hurt. I've been thoroughly enjoying all our time spent together, including the virtual time. This isn't a passive reflection about hurt feelings that I didn't address at the time so much as it is about me becoming clearer about what I want/need and choosing to share that with you. Giving you my cards, so to speak. Because why not give them to each other?! It's not a game after all. It's only in giving them to you that I can gradually find out if what we have is great right now or for the much longer term as well.

The other day when we were coming out of the store and them again at BV, you made sweet comments about which side of me you should be on and opening the door. You so clearly think about all those acts of chivalry. And you know that I find that endearing. But here's the thing, I'm complicated. Those little acts are just sugar icing when it comes to winning my heart. They are sweet gestures that while they do certainly demonstrate care and make me feel like I'm treated with extra thoughtfulness, they pale in comparison to the bigger ways of demonstrating and creating real care and intimacy, which is what drives me more than anything, or to extend the metaphor, what really nourishes me.

What I yearn for is someone who wants to know all of me. It's funny that old joke about how "to know" someone in the Bible meant to sleep with them. And yet, it's so true. My emotional, spiritual, and intellectual intimacy are totally connected to my physical intimacy. (Not with every person of course, but with my romantic partner, the more the other forms of intimacy are there, the more amazing the physical is.)

I made a vision board last year at some point and put on it images of the things I want to bring into my life. One image was of a heart cradled in a pair of hands.  I liked that image specifically because it represented the idea that someone would cherish me and my heart, would treat me/it with genuine tenderness because he valued me.  For me, part of being valued is being fully known/understood.  And that's perhaps not easy because (I know) I'm more complicated in many ways then some other women.  Nonetheless, and perhaps all the more because of it, I yearn for someone who really wants to hold all of me, to know all my thoughts and feelings, who really gets me, from the trivial like how I take my tea to the deeply meaningful like WHY I love something and what I think about it and how it connects, contrasts or confirms what he thinks (a book or musical or workshop or whatever). My ideal partner will yearn to know me as much as I yearn to be known (and vice versa).

Now whether or not a relationship like that actually exists is a question I don't have an answer for yet. Maybe it's not possible at all with one person and life is about building a variety of relationships that can satisfy my need for this.  Maybe it's possible, but with someone else. Maybe it's possible and with you. That would be very exciting since I enjoy you in so many other ways.  Like I said, I don't know the answer yet. But I wanted to share this yearning with you to see how it affects how things unfold as we continue to explore each other.  

It gets more complicated because of my introvert-masking-as-an-extrovert nature.  I converse easily, I can gab away like anyone else, but the things that are most important to me, I don't necessarily feel like dumping out on the table.  I have to know that the person is really interested in them.  It makes a big difference to me whether or not I'm just spewing out my thoughts and feelings uninvited versus being encouraged to talk about things.  It's the difference between just sharing of myself without being asked versus someone really desiring to know me.  I don't know if this makes any sense.  And perhaps I have personal self-growth work to do in this area, but the first step is to know the pattern and I guess in relationship, the second step would be to let your partner know what you're feeling. 

Some of this you already do.  I've noticed how incredibly observant and thoughtful you are in a lot of ways.  Like bringing tea on our picnic.  Like asking me if I got a lot of work done when you know I was feeling stressed or asking me how I'm feeling.  You are definitely sensitive and thoughtful about the details, and I so enjoy that.  And yet, ego-centric human being that I am, I want more!  There have been many times when I've made comments or asked questions of you and found myself wishing that you had asked me back or responded more deeply or probed more, to really get to know me.  Now, like I said earlier, maybe that's too much to ask for from anyone.  Or maybe I'm just not going to get that from you.  Or maybe I might get that from you but you don't have the practice.  I can't every really know your history with Nannette.  Maybe things fell apart because she didn't feel like you cared about her on the deeper levels like that.  No amount of chivalry and superficial kisses on the way in or out the door is enough to sustain things. (I really hope that's not the story.)  It's also quite possible that she didn't need the level of emotional and intellectual intimacy that I demand.  I know plenty of women who aren't as complicated as I am, who don't need as much of that from their partners.  So, maybe you just haven't had the opportunity to practice that with someone yet, in which case, I'm really hoping you want to! 

In any event, I'll summarize by saying this.  I'm enjoying this relationship and these interactions and you.  For many reasons.  Enough so that I want to invest in any potential real future together by giving you my cards so to speak.  Here's how to play if you really want me to fall in love with you, should that interest you in the long run: If I ask you a question, definitely ask me back.  Ask me other questions.  Real and deep questions.  Catalog my thoughts and feelings so you start to see the patterns and form a 3D sense of who I am emotionally, spiritually, and intellectually.  If I say I like something or that it is meaningful to me, probe. Ask me more questions.  Figure out why.  And the ultimate… share how that connects with your own ideas.  Ah, bliss!  Maybe it sounds cheesy, but it's like having my soul being invited out to play.  It's not just dinner and movies or hikes or whatever fun thing I'm enjoying with you, but it becomes so much more then.  Anyhow, that's enough.  I think you get the idea.  J  You know how I fall apart when you run your fingers across my arm or side or wherever really, that throw all caution to the wind feeling you've seen me demonstrate? Let's just say, if you can invite ALL of me to be intimate with you, well, you haven't seen nothing yet!  ;)

Monday, July 21, 2014

Get vs crush

It's 1am and I have to get up early in the AM for the first day of the summer camp I direct. What am I doing up so late? I can't do it now because of the time, but I really do want to write out the whole experience with the get. It was a profoundly significant day. So filled with meaning and ritual. Everyone who has to suffer through a divorce should have the gift or a day like that. It was the equivalent of a wedding day in reverse. Powerful. I really want to record more about it. But since it happened my emotional energy has been going instead into a distinctly different direction. I am developing some pretty serious feelings. Seriously giddy feelings actually. I maintain that I did/do not want to jump into anything, but we're doing exactly that! Oy! It's so hard not to. But relative to other people, I suppose we're taking it slowly. Second date was Wednesday. Third one was Friday night. Does a hike first thing Saturday morning count as forth then? He didn't sleep over, so technically it was a new date even if only give hours had passed since we'd seen each other last. Then he came by my office tonight. And we talk and mostly text multiple times a day. For probably at least an hour each day. I'm very attracted to him. I need to keep it under control. Or do I? He told his kids about me tonight!! That's huge!! I can't believe he did that. Especially since we both have agreed we didn't want to involve our kids until things got serious. How could this be happening so fast? We got divorced within 2 days of each other. I won't go so far as to say everything happens for a reason, which I've never believed, but it certainly gives me pause for thought. He's the invisible needle in the imaginary haystack I kept mentioning. Professional, intelligent, divorced Jewish father in MY little not so Jewish town. How is this even possible?

Thursday, July 17, 2014

First post-marriage kisses feel like FIRST kisses

Second date last night. Eight hours. Nice, good man. First kisses for each of us since marriage. Sweet sweet kisses. Then we hugged and held each other close because it was a clearly a big deal for both of us. This is right after I told him that "I don't know what 'this' (the relationship) is, and that's ok with me, but it's definitely getting my feet a lot wetter than I anticipated, and I'm ok with the lack of definition so long as he tells me if he sits with anyone else on a porch for hours and hours in the middle of the night. :) He is welcome to do so, I just want to know where I stand. Reminds me of that old popular poem from high school or college, "a kiss is not a contract." I don't want a contract or relationship at this point. I just want to know where I stand. And then he said (among other things), "well would it be ok if I kissed you goodnight?" :)
Oh my!!
Really really don't want to rush in to anything. Feel like I already have more than I should have. But it's awfully hard not too when it feels so satisfying.

In other news, getting the get today. Then going to bury the ketubah, then mikveh, then special little blessing ceremony. Big big day.