My evolution of Christmas

Four years ago, I was preparing for a Christmas of chaos. I had three families to coordinate, my own husband and children, my parents, siblings and children and my (now very ex) husbands mother, sister and children. I had presents to buy, presents to wrap and most importantly time to allocate between three homes that exist approximately two hours apart, collectively ending up  four hours from home.

In my mind, the years of Christmas chaos begin to blend and I struggle to remember the specifics of each, but I remember feeling overwhelmed, underappreciated, guilty and so exhausted.

Three years ago, I was preparing for a Christmas unlike any I had ever known. I was alone, I was sad and I cried many tears. I had friends to pick me up, to keep me busy and to share their joy, but it was hard. However, when I finally gathered with my family and my children again, I felt a freedom I’d never known. Like the anchor I had been dragging behind me had finally been left behind.

Last year, I was surrounded (in my tiny townhouse) with my family; together with my children and my parents we celebrated Christmas in a whole new way. It was small, it was personal and I loved it. When my children went to see their Dad and his family, I spent a week with the most amazing girl, someone whom I couldn’t deny my feelings for and discovered that after a week together the only thing I wanted, was more.

This year, she is part of the family. Together we setup the Christmas tree, we listen to Christmas carols and we bake (gluten free) goodies. Together, we wrote Christmas cards, we bought presents, we hide the damn elf and we wrap the seemingly endless presents. We will have our own Christmas day and then pick up my boys and make the way to my family to celebrate Christmas all together with the family.

This year, I’m excited to see what Christmas will bring; together our idea of Christmas is evolving by the day and I’ve never seen anything quite so beautiful.

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I Don’t Know What They Wore

Today was the first day of school for my boys, they woke up at home with me and I whisked them off to their Dad’s at 6:30 am. I gave them kisses and hugs and told them I loved them. I told them I hoped they would have an amazing first day at school and I assured my littlest that if he played nicely, like he had all summer, the other kids would want to play with him too.

When I talked to them after work, they both sounded happy, excited to have seen their friends and gone to school. For two little boys who have been claiming they hate school all summer, that’s a win. My heart smiled when I could hear the joy in their voices, I want them to love learning, to thirst for knowledge and have the drive to accomplish their dreams.

But, today was the first day of school and I didn’t get to walk them to their classes, I didn’t get to hug them at their classroom door or pick them up and celebrate a successful, albeit short, first day.

In fact, I don’t even know what they wore. My Facebook account is a sea of smiling faces with adorable first day of school signs. I know what everybody else’s children wore to school today, but I don’t have a clue what my boys wore. And its making me cry.

As a working mom, I know that there will always be school events I can’t attend and that’s the only reality my boys know, I’ve always worked.

But as a divorced Mom, I never realized how much the little, seemingly insignificant, things could hurt. I knew that getting divorced and co-parenting would be a challenge, but I don’t think I could have ever been fully prepared for the emotions that bubble up in a moment, painting my face with tears.

I had trouble focusing all day at work and I couldn’t pinpoint why. When I sat down to write this evening, it wasn’t about parenting, but my stream of consciousness brought me here; pondering what it means to my soul, to co-parent my children.

Mean Girls

As a young adult I remember asking my mom why I was never teased; I was always nerdy, awkward, clumsy and looking back, probably pretty sexually confused. I have definitely lost friends over the years, but have only one recollection of being teased. My mom told me that kids probably tried to tease me but I was likely busy in my own world, oblivious to those around me and therefore not worth the effort since I never solicited the right response.

I’ve always carried around this naive belief that when you are truly good to people and treat them with respect and good intentions they will at the least, attempt to return that kindness. I am an extrovert and I recharge by talking about and sharing my feelings and my experiences with those that I consider my friends and family. I will bare my soul and I will share pieces of me, if we share any sort of connection.

Foolishly, I’ve always believed that though I share them, the pages of my book are sacred and those that have seen them respect all that they contain. But I know now, that in a moment everything can change; I find myself standing here with the pages of my book fluttering in the wind for everyone to see.

It’s not the first time that I’ve lost friends but I do think its the most painful.

Maybe its because I’m an adult and I expect that the people in my life can and will act like adults, that there can be a conversation, some space and some shared understanding of how a situation can improve.

Maybe its because in a town of ~2000 people, starting over isn’t exactly easy especially when you’re a working mom who has very little free time. Making new friends when you’re rarely around is difficult at best.

Maybe its because my heart breaks every time my children ask me why they can’t go see the kids they thought they were there friends, or why I’m not friends with the mom’s anymore and I have literally no answer to give. I don’t know why.

I think its the latter that is the hardest for me; I don’t want people in my life that can’t support me in all my authentic glory, but my kids are suffering too and that hurts my soul. They miss kids they thought were their friends, shared barbecues, camping, kayak trips, laughter and smiles. This summer is nothing like their last and I can’t change that for them.

But I’m also disappointed, never in my life have I ever felt like I was truly part of a group of girls, I just never seemed to fit, until I moved here. It was an adjustment for me, to learn what it meant to be part of the crowd and then just like that, I was out.

It turns out mean girls aren’t just for Disney movies and they don’t just disappear after high school. Mean Girls become Mean Mom’s and quick as you can blink, they may turn on you when you no longer fit their mold.

thankfulness

Each evening, we go around the dinner table and share both our favourite and least favourite part of the day; its an opportunity to revel in the joys and acknowledge the frustrations of the day. We also share something we are thankful for about once a week and I continue to be astounded by my boys and the gratitude they express for their home, their family and food in their belly.

home

Yesterday, after four nights at my parents home, I was thankful to be home, in my space and with my people.

As my girlfriend walked by, I reached for her and pulled her to me, so we could share the briefest kiss. Breathlessly, I whispered, I missed you; she smiled, responding with a simple me too.

She came with us to see my family and welcoming as they have been (and as much as I love them) it feels different. At home, there’s no hesitation, no question and no worry because there is no judgement or concern. At home, WE are free to be our shared US, to instinctually reach for one another with our bodies, our souls or our lips as the moment requires.

Home is so much more than the structure in which we live, home is the place that affords us the freedom to exist in our purest, truest and most authentic form. Home recharges us and provides a space to feel and to exist and if we’re lucky, home is filled with love and light and happiness.

I am thankful to be home, to hear my boys playing and laughing together, to sit around the table with my people and share the little things that make our days our own and I’m especially thankful that she has chosen to take a seat at our table.

They say that home is where the heart is and that’s absolutely true; my home and my heart are both so incredibly full and for that, I am eternally thankful.

*after publishing this, I realized it was fitting for the Daily Prompt: Partner

I’m Glowing

I’ve had a lot of people tell me lately that I am ‘glowing’ in my pictures on social media, that I look so happy and that people are proud of me for finding my happiness and being true to myself. And I can’t help but wonder, if my people can see THAT much from my photographs, what must they see when I’m standing right in front of them?

My parents spent some time at my house last week and although I missed it, my lovely girlfriend caught my dad looking at the two of us, and smiling as we all shared a meal. Then when we went to the pub for dinner, my mom pulled out her camera and asked us to smile for a photo; it turned out terrible, but when she posted it to Facebook the post was accompanied with a simple ‘Happiness <3′. I just couldn’t tell her to take the picture down, such a public compliment and expression of her acceptance of our love.

I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again, I’ve been spoiled with acceptance when its come to my being out. My cousin is getting married in September and when my invitation arrived, I was excited to see a plus one included and promptly asked my girlfriend if she was free and up for the family affair that is a wedding.

And then I realized, my cousin isn’t on social media, maybe he didn’t know I was gay. Maybe his wife’s family is homophobic. Maybe my gramma is homophobic. And suddenly, RSVPing wasn’t quite as simple as it had once been. But when I contacted my cousin to check in, he told me quite simply ‘I know about the love of your life, and yes she’s invited.‘ And my mom assured me that she had already talked to her mom and although she sometimes speaks without thinking (don’t we all), there was nothing to worry about when it came to gramma either.

Just like that, I realized that our crazy circus, my boys and my girl are going to a wedding and my entire family is going to see all my damn happy. If they can’t see the joy and authenticity that this life brings me, when I’m standing right in front of them, then I guess they aren’t paying attention because apparently, I’m glowing.

What’s Important?

Change takes time. Sometimes I feel like I’m succeeding in my journey of self discovery, confident I’m learning my lessons and progressing step by step. Other times the progress feels slow and old memories, old patterns and old habits abound but I believe that any challenge truly worth undertaking is worth the effort.

I know, that there is no finish line, no single moment when life will achieve perfection and there’s nothing left to strive for, because there’s always an opportunity to dream bigger, but that does not negate the value of reflection. Over the past month, on multiple occasions, I’ve found myself contemplating where I’ve been, who I am, where I’m going and of course, what’s important to me.

I learned about Autonomy (the independence or freedom, as of the will or one’s actions) in the context of work; an employee who has the freedom to complete their work in a way that makes sense to them (and without being micromanaged), is more apt to be satisfied in their role and the same is true for life. Autonomy is important to me; the ability to make my own decisions about my life and my actions means my life is my own. I am free to be me, to love who I want to love and to express  myself in the most authentic way I know how.

Family is more than the sharing of blood and relations, its the people in my life that will stand up and support me day after day, time after time. Family trusts and believes in my ability to blaze my trail with my head held high, but will hold my hand and lift me up when I get tired. I am honoured to have the family and support system that I have.

Nature, the scent of the earth, the sound of leaves rustling in the air and the tranquility of water gently swaying are like food for my soul. Nature brings me balance, peace and an opportunity to revitalize my soul. The opportunity to separate my mind and my body from the realities of life, even for a moment at a time, is not optional; I need access to nature.

And love. I love, love. The warmth that overcomes me when she’s near, the smile the slips across my face as I see her walking towards me, the understanding that we share and most all all our ability to communicate and to listen. Together we stand taller, are braver and are stronger, because we don’t have to tackle life’s challenges alone. I am spoiled to share a love that is rooted in acceptance and individuality; love enhances the life that I choose to pursue.

Today, I live the life I want to live and finally I feel certainty that I know what that actually means.