A good marriage …

The grass is not greener on the other side of the fence.  It is the greenest where nurtured and cared for.  If your grass is not green, what are you doing – or not doing – to have it that way?‘  –  Wedding Ceremony Sermon

…………….

The Cowboy and I had a wonderful weekend together .. filled with family and friends and more friends and family.

And some drama.

Fortunately, not between us.  But it was .. surrounding us.  And as we were caught between conversations (and this is just in one 48 hour period); 1) of a friend miserable in their marriage, wanting to know about a single friend 2) of a married couple we are close and spent time with but who were at each others throats 3) of a single friend over the phone wondering why the only people who want to date her are married 4) catching up with another couple who plans their week scheduling as much time apart as possible because its easier than being together and 5) of another couple in the midst of an affair and very open about it ..

The Cowboy asks me as we’re trying to navigate phone calls and how to respond to any of it, “Who do you know that really has a good marriage?”

I paused .. and when I went to answer, I paused again for a long time.

…………….

Thinking about the question posed, now almost a day later and as I write, I do know quite a few friends who are in wonderful marriages.  Not that any union is ever without its challenges.  But when challenges come, from what I have ever witnessed, they face them together, with respect, love for each other and a commitment to stick together.  And they have come through it stronger.

Far too many of us know …

… That’s not always possible.

Having been through divorce myself though, I get it.  I know the feeling of hopelessness. Years of it.  Of, no matter what you do, it’s not right.  Of defeat.  Of trying everything you can to save it.  Then being told its never enough.  Of counseling.  Finding hope.  Of a few months of things going well only to have the cycle reverse itself again.  Of knowing there is more to life than the misery it seems two people bring out of each other.  Seeing the pain in a child’s eyes of what the two of you are when you are together.  And imagining the sorrow and confusion in that same child’s eyes, of what it will be should you part.  Of wanting to run your car into a tree versus return home at night because it would be easier than making that decision.  Of knowing that’s not the answer.  And then, of getting to the point you know the pain of staying is worse than anything else you will have to go through to get to the other side.

My ex still says he wishes we had never married in the first place.  That it was the biggest mistake of his life and he should have known better.

While I don’t feel the same .. I get it.

And I’m not going to lie ..

There are so many reasons why one might choose the option of divorce over staying married.  Statistics show over half of our population now does.  While I was devastated to be the one to finally force that step we had both talked about for years, I have not regretted the decision to separate from my ex for one day.

But had there been any chance for us .. any .. to live in harmony and have the life we both wanted, I would have continued to try and make it work.

…………..

Marriage .. even just a committed long term relationship, is hard.  And as the Cowboy and I talk about where we go from this place we are at .. in life .. in location .. in any of this and we look at the challenges being faced by so many around us and the situations they are creating for themselves as well as having been in some of those places in one way or another ourselves, the question posed stumped us both.  At least momentarily.

We have something good.  But at one point, so did we with our -ex’s .. and so did all of these family and friends ..

How do you hold onto that, the good?  Or the great.  We have talked about this before.  Many times.

I asked the one married friend who was calling to ask about my single friend and if I thought they might have any chance to hook up with them .. first, I think I said, ‘Are you kidding?’  Second, I know I asked if they were willing to work on their own marriage.  Tend to the grass.  Work on making it green.  Had they even talked with their spouse about how devastated they were.

“No, not really,” they said.

“Wouldn’t that be an important first step?  Do you want to save your marriage or are you just done?  My ex and I went to counseling on and off for almost 8 years, you know that,” I said.

“I think I’m just done.  There is no love.  There hasn’t been for a long time,” this person replied.

……………

How .. how do you bring it back?

How do you make sure the grass is greener on your side of the fence than what it appears on the other.  And what can any of us do to regrow the lawn/a relationship when it seems so far gone?

Or are we just a throwaway society anymore and it doesn’t matter if there is still some life in the yard .. we just want to rip the whole thing apart, and start over with some fresh sod.  Because sometimes that is all you can do.

The Cowboy and I have been pondering all of this …

And they have been good, ongoing conversations for us, as we work to keep our own relationship strong and green and help others we love and care about through some pretty rough patches.

Something I need more time to think about .. before I write any more.  That will be tomorrow’s post.  Your thoughts in the meantime?

Back in the saddle ..

Since I’ve known the Cowboy .. he’s taught roping.

He’s practiced roping with friends, on occasion.

But I have yet to see him rope.. or heel is what he usually does, in an actual rodeo.

Watching afternoon practice ..

Despite the fact he essentially dropped out of his career as a team roper to get through his divorce a year ago, to be home more and spend as much time as possible with his kids..

He still made the Minnesota Rodeo Association Finals  http://www.mnrodeo.org/ this weekend in Fergus Falls, MN.

Unfortunately…

He didn’t get notice that he qualified, until I had something on the books already for the weekend.

Very bummed about that.

Now … this brings up a dilemma each person/couple/family has to face and make decisions about on their own.  But after years of essentially not worrying all that much about someone else having something on their calendar besides my daughter, that might conflict with my own insane number of commitments .. I wasn’t sure what to do.

I wanted to go..

But at the very least, four other people were relying on me to be not at a rodeo in the middle of nowhere, Minnesota.

Completely torn, I was asked a couple of months ago to make a decision so that everyone knew where I stood and could adjust accordingly.  The Cowboy and I had a long talk .. and for a number of reasons, we decided it was best I kept my current commitment.

“I’ll be roping plenty of times from here on out for you to come watch,” said the Cowboy.

I’m looking forward to it.

And while I’m enjoying the much needed down time alone this weekend in-between commitments..

The kids are with him .. so are his folks.

Selfishly, I am wishing I/we were with them too.

…………….

It is so easy to get caught up in the chaos of a good life .. the opportunities to go and see and do and be a part of .. and there is never a shortage, especially when you live near so many good friends and family.

This weekend however..

Friday night dance after the rodeo ..

…has been a beautiful reminder of how nice it might be..  to not have a calendar completely booked out for the rest of the year.  Or at least time, set completely aside for whatever may come along.  Is it possible?  I don’t know..

But I may just give it a try.

Clay.

One of the hardest things we have to do in life, is trust.

But it’s also one of the most important.

Trust that as children, our parents will provide for us, the basic necessities.

Trust that as we grow, we have what it takes to survive and thrive in an ever changing, often very tough world.

Trust in something.  Someone.  Bigger than yourself.

For me, it is God.  It is what grounds me and gets me through, not always unscathed, but through the challenges that present themselves day to day.

Trust that there is a reason for everything.

And that when it is your time, for life.. for death.. and whatever may lie in between, you will have what you sincerely need to get through.  To get through to that place He, for whatever reason, has in store for us.

I struggle with that sometimes when I really go back and think of the experience we had with my mother dying.

When I really give myself time to remember what it was like to look into her eyes.. hold her hand .. and try to reassure her it would be ok, as she struggled to breathe, very afraid of both leaving us.

And the process of dying.  Would it hurt.  Was there really a place she was going called Heaven.  The why’s.  The how’s.  Mostly, the why’s, although she only once ever said it.

I can’t imagine.. whether it is death, losing someone in any capacity .. or the life some of us feel we have been given to lead,  that most of us don’t feel challenged in our faith on a consistent basis.

Having had so many that mean so much .. come and go in my life in such a short time, I try and just feel blessed I have the people in my life I do, however long it is possible.

……………..

I took the photo above, at our church the other weekend.  The church had been host to an artists conference and there were a few works on display yet that Sunday morning.

Out of everything there.. this one photo stood out to me.

The parallels to life, of clay being molded into something beautiful.  Starting out as a heap.  Slowly being spun.  Not always holding it’s shape, but reminded time and again, turn after turn of the wheel, where it is supposed to go based on the work of the hands.  That it will be ok if it just trusts in what is happening, works with the artist and allows guidance.  The edges are softened.  Eventually, a beautiful pot is made.

…………….

I wrote a blog earlier today walking through some of the conversations the Cowboy and I have had this week.  I asked the Cowboy what was off limits.  ‘I trust you’, is what he most often says.  ‘I have nothing to hide.’

I wrote it carefully as I do every entry.  Well, most.  Sometimes when a post seems relatively benign and just for fun and I’m in a hurry to document something, my grammar is terrible and words are misspelled everywhere.  But whatever…

I did everything I could to be factually correct throughout and provide the essentials of one small moment in time.  This one very small part of a much bigger story of my life which will unfold piece by piece otherwise in any true daily journal.

Because it seemed too much for one quick read, I split it in two.  Tomorrow was going to be the lessons learned from all of this.  Most of which detailed my ignorance to what most other people who lead what might be considered a ‘more normal life’ than I do, find acceptable.  Versus what I consider normal.  (Is there a normal out there anymore?  I ask as I am up writing at 4am after having fallen asleep again earlier in the night with my daughter)  And why I have learned through this I need to get back to a place where I know I have to work on being more considerate.  Because the last thing I want to ever do is hurt anyone, especially someone I love.

I pulled the post.  Even though I do plan to save it for my daughter.  Because the lessons all around still apply.  They are tough lessons.  And one I wish my mom were around to talk with about.  (I have several other ‘second moms’.  A story to be told closer to Mother’s Day I think.)

For as authentic as I want to be always in person, in writing, in life .. the whole reason I am journaling ..

I also at this moment don’t believe it is worth dragging out some of the pain the Cowboy and I .. feel the situation we’ve found ourselves in, worth.

I hope that is authentic enough in and of itself.

I need him to trust I will take care of his heart.  And I am fairly certain, until any of us ever heal from previous unhealthy relationships, hurt or pain, losses in life through things like divorce or in death, that it is tough to lay your heart fully out there to trust anyone again.

We are still being molded.  And I want to take the best possible care of the clay we have been given in the trust it will turn yet, into something even more beautiful.

Insight gleaned from hydrangeas on the floor …

My cat right now is chasing a guitar pick around the living room like it’s the best toy, ever.  Like, it’s on the run from him and he’s totally not going to let it get away.

I’m pretty sure its the first thing to bring a genuine smile to my face since about 8:00am yesterday.

Of course.. it follows him knocking over a vase freshly filled with water to get a drink.

Which makes me smile, too.

Now that I’ve cleaned up the water, anyway.  Because it’s my own damn fault he knocked it over.  I knew he was thirsty.  He had been looking for something for probably the past ten minutes.  I could hear him checking the shower for any residual drops.  I was folding clothes.  He came and looked at me.  I asked if he could give me a few minutes.

He went to the dog dish.  Nothing there.  I’m still folding clothes.  I hear the vase go.  He always goes for the flower vase when I don’t respond quick enough or there are no other options.

I pick up the hydrangeas off the floor..

I pause, before placing them back in the vase.  Go and get some more water.

And put them back on the table.

I tend to buy myself flowers when I need a pick me up.  Or, just because.

Today, I needed the pick me up.

………….

Oh the irony, I think to myself.  The cat knocks the vase over because he needs something.  Something I didn’t get him immediately.  A bit drastic?  Perhaps.  But it reminds me of my day.  When you wait too long to address a situation, it can easily get out of hand.

………….

I received a text Monday morning from the Cowboy about 25 minutes after he hit the road to head home to South Dakota.

“Please call when you drop (daughter) off, need to talk” states the text.

We had just had 48 hours of pretty much nothing but time to talk.  Time in the car.  Hours.  Together with nothing to do but talk.  We had some really fun, wonderful conversations.  So much so in fact, I pointed it out specifically after one very animated chat about shows we each used to watch when we were kids.

“My brothers and I used to not get out of the car unless we could go through the windows,” said the Cowboy.  “Dukes of Hazard.  Did you watch that one?  We loved that show.”

He shared some more ridiculously fun and fond memories about times he and his brothers did some crazy things to be like the Duke boys..

I’m laughing.

“These are really great conversations,” I honestly said to the Cowboy on our return trip Sunday from Chicago.  “Have you ever been able to talk to someone like this?” I ask.

“No,” he said smiling.  “I haven’t.”

I even took a few notes because they are conversations worth journaling.  Internally I’m thinking, how can we make sure we always continue to talk like this?  To keep learning from each other?

‘Need to talk.’

I hear this and think, oh no.. what’s happened.  There is so much going on right now.  So many moving parts in both our lives.  The Cowboy has a big day back home, Tuesday.  Monday was a prep day.  And here I was concerned it was something in regard to ‘said’ meeting.  Or the kids.  Something is horribly wrong.  Someone’s been hurt or is sick.

Nope.

‘I want to ask you about some texts I saw on your phone,’ says the Cowboy.

………….

Besides the whole host of things that might need to be discussed here ..

And mind you, I leave my phone lying around with no concerns about anything anyone might see on my phone because I have nothing to hide

This all started Saturday morning …

It is now Monday.  And he’s left, on his way home.

…………..

I struggled with what to write, if anything at all tonight/today.  Because quite honestly, I’m still baffled about the entire situation.  But more importantly, the Cowboy has enough on his plate and the last thing I ever want to do is upset him or distract him from major life tasks that are imminent and need his focus.

I’m also wondering if stress isn’t playing a major role in any and all issues we’re having right now versus actual problems.

So I’m leaving it at this .. for now.

There are lessons, always, to be learned in our every day.  And there are stories and wisdom I wish my mother were still alive to hand down to me.  From simple things like how she made such awesome rosettes for instance .. to the complex.  Relationships.  Marriage.  Finances.  Friends.  Dreams.  Even cats.  (Yes, even cats.  I’m sure they fit in here, somewhere.)

I feel strongly the situation that has unfolded the past 24 hours specifically holds a lot of food for thought for my daughter, as she gets older and will undoubtedly face similar situations.  So I will figure out how to tactfully write about what has transpired.  Just not now.

……………

Much like the vase tipped this morning.. and the gush of water and flowers on the floor .. some things become bigger messes than they ever need to be.  Or are worth being.  Because attention wasn’t given at the right time.  Or to the right thing.  Sometimes, it can be as simple as someone/something wanting to make a mess.  But usually there’s a deeper cause.  Whatever the case .. in the wee hours of the morning as I write this:  I’m not sure how the Cowboy is.  I want nothing but good things for him and us however .. so we shall see how well we navigate this road.  But the cat .. the cat is the only thing at the moment, I feel I can appease.  And because he let me know very swiftly there was an issue..

Apparently I need to clean my floors again. I know.. I know..

There is now water in every dish.

A content cat on the sofa sleeping.

And a guitar pick that can rest.

……………

I’m off to try and do the same.

When a child walks in on….

One of my best girlfriends..

We have known each other for .. pretty much 15 years.

At times we’ve kept in touch daily, other times.. not much at all.  But we always pick right back up where we left off.  And like so many good friends who are busy with family, life and career, I always wish there were more time..

So when I see a text come in from her .. it catches my eye.

One text the other day however, REALLY stopped me in my tracks.

Verbatim:

“Convo between me and child yesterday..Me: just knock and come in.  Child: I did that once and saw something so horrifying.  Something I never imagined I would see and now I can’t un-see it.  I never want to risk seeing that again.”

I’m laughing.  Because I can just hear her child saying this in the very wry – I’m embarrassed by my mother – but I’m cool with it – manner he often speaks.   Probably not a laughing matter.  But I’m laughing.  I text her back.

“Oh no,”  I say.  “Not that.”

Then I start racking my brain to remember if I ever saw my parents in an uncompromising position as a child.  Pretty sure never really saw.  But did ‘hear’ on at least one occasion.  Hard not to, they had a waterbed.  And it did scar me as a child.  For a long time.

I cringe as I send another text, thinking no way is this true, but I’m going to try and make her feel better ..

“I bet in a couple years he forgets when his own hormones kick in,” I say, along with a few other thoughts.

And I wrap it up with, “Oh my God.”

Then I think, oh that’s a good story.  Because there’s NO WAY they’re the only ones this has happened to.  But who talks about that???  So I ask her what she thinks.  If she’d be willing to write something up for the blog.

“Sure use it,” she says.  “I laugh everytime I think of it.  It’s hilarious.”

She’s a writer herself.  A great writer, in fact.  Below is her account.

……

I overslept last week on a school day. My eyes sprung open at the exact minute I needed to get (child) out the door, into the car and to school on time.

Me: “Child! Are you ready to go???!!!”

Child: “Yes mom, I’ve been sitting here waiting for you.”

I’m still wearing pajamas as we get into the car and start the drive.

Once we’re on the road he says, “How could you oversleep? I have safety patrol today and if I’m late no one will be there to patrol the hallway near the janitor’s closet.”

Me: “Sorry bud. You know you can knock on the door and come in if it ever happens again.”

Child: “No. I’m not doing that.”

Me: “Why not?  (Step-brother) does it all the time.”

Child: “Because I did it once and saw something so horrifying. Something I never imagined I would see and now I can’t unsee it. I never want to risk seeing that again.”

There’s a long pause as I digest what he just explained. I’m a newlywed so things can get a bit amorous.

Me: “So we were having sex?”

Child: “Yes. And I don’t want to talk about it.”

Since I have no idea when the incident occurred, I spent the next several moments wondering what, exactly, did he walk in on? Everything I came up with led to the same conclusion: a child should never, never EVER have to see his parents having shall we say, a private moment.

He hasn’t wanted to talk about it since so I haven’t pressed him. I remember that I was that young once, and horrified when I accidentally walked in on my mom and her new husband. Yuck.

I respect and understand his reaction. But maybe because I witnessed something similar when I was a kid and was still somehow able to move on and function in society, I laugh every time I think of it.

*The irony.  His dad came out of the closet seven years ago, and has lived with men ever since.  I can’t help but wonder, is catching me in the act is any more horrific than catching his dad?

Not that there’s anything wrong with that…

……
If you have kids.  A house.  And sex.  Chances are, there is a chance at some point this may happen.  Apparently, browsing the web on this topic, there’s even a term for it.  “Primal scene”?  But that whole message seemed a bit much so I left it off the links below.
Anyway, some food for thought, should you ever be caught…. in the meantime, I’m just happy to know my gf and her new hubby are enjoying everything life and marriage have to offer .. especially the sex.  This time around.  Because walking in on anything wasn’t an issue in her marriage to the child’s father.  For reasons, if you caught it above, are self explanatory.

Social Media Explained ..

“I’m just still not sure I understand.  When would you use Twitter?  How is it different than Facebook?” asks a friend the other night of me while the Cowboy and I are hanging at her house for the Super Bowl.

“Ahhh,”  she pseudo screams.  “I prefer to stay away from all of ’em.”

Sorry gf, your Pats lost.

The Cowboy was telling her I’m on Twitter all the time.  (@convowithcowboy not my only account)  I have another account for work that I not only enjoy using immensely, but its amazing being in the news business, to have the access to the real time goings on and sharing of information Twitter now provides.

My girlfriend still doesn’t really care.

But in light of the Cowboy trying to get the hang of this tweeting thing.. I grabbed this off my FB wall.  (Social Media Explained a la @ThreeShipsMedia http://instagr.am/p/nm695/)

Maybe you’ve seen it.  It made the rounds today.

But I think its hysterical.

And, kind of informative.

I’m still not sure my girlfriend will understand.. or care.   I’ll have to decide if and where that’s a thought worth posting ..

 

11 Reasons Why ..

“Mom!” my daughter says…

She had just picked up the phone.  I was calling to talk as I was still in South Dakota earlier this week.

“Where are you?” she asks.  “Are you still at the Cowboy’s?”

“I am, honey!  How are you?” I replied.

“Mom..” she says, rather breathlessly .. “OK.  I have 11 reasons why I would want to move to South Dakota.. and 11 reasons why I don’t.  And .. why are you still there?  I want you to come home.”

While she loves the Cowboy, his kids, their lifestyle and I believe wants nothing more than to live on a ranch where there is every opportunity to have all the animals she’s ever desired, especially horses..

We’re (and by saying ‘we’, I mean ‘she’ .. ) very stressed at the moment, about what might be happening later this year and where we might be going to school.

My daughter is 10.

She met the Cowboy before I even had a chance to introduce the two this past summer.  The scene:  we were out at the barn where we keep our horse.  The owner, thrilled to have someone around who really spoke her language (horses), she  swooped him up for almost an hour, showing him around while I went and rode.  I came back to where everyone was standing after a brief ride.. and my daughter was hamming it up.   As soon as he started talking to another person standing with us all, she grabbed me by the arm and whispered loudly, “Mom.. He’s so nice!  He’s cuuuuuute!  And, he’s a real cowboy, Mom!”

She’s told me herself on many occasions over the past 8 months, since the Cowboy and I met, that she thinks he’s the one, if there ever were another one for me.  She adores him and she knows I do as well.  (Understatement of the year)  But, if we do take life and this love a step further, what does that mean?

How do we all live together, us, the kids, the ex’s?  Same geographic area, I’m speaking?  OR do we not?  Do we keep two separate homes in two separate states and keep driving between?  Or do we find what we want somehow, and that is time, all together, everyday.  If so, where would we live?  Where would she go to school?  Would she get her own room and her own horse?  That’s what she wants to know.


But she also wants me to know as one of the 11 reasons she doesn’t want to move to South Dakota, that she’ll never consider the Cowboy family.  (Mind you this comes within months of saying she can’t wait to have brothers and a sister and the Cowboy would make a great step-dad and asking if we could please move there because the west ‘is where her heart just is‘.  She can’t describe it, she used to tell me.  I get that, I really do.)

Until now, my ex and I have stayed put, not wanting to ever have this discussion.  I’m not sure either of us does now.  But life and I truly feel God’s plans for me/us are bringing it all to a head.  How do parents make these decisions?  These….. gut wrenching, heart breaking, tough, life altering decisions?  Seriously?  We can’t all regroup and fall in love again in the exact same location we often feel trapped by divorce.

I am feeling like a horrible mother for even thinking – what if there is a split in the coming year or years between states.  Her father has despised his time in Wisconsin since the day he moved here and would love nothing more than to leave.  But, he’s not interested in South Dakota, he’s told me.  What if, she spends summers with one and the school year with another?  How awful will it feel to be the one left with less time to love her in person, raise her, guide her and be present?  Or, will she be okay either way?

My daughter would be going to a new school in her current district this next school year anyway, but she’d still be with the friends she’s made the past few years.  She is petrified we might send her to a new school within if not the district, another town or even a new state.

I keep saying that to her, please don’t worry right now .. there isn’t one of us adults at the moment, certain of what is to come.  What we do know, is we love her.  And we are all working toward the best possible solutions with that in mind.  And in the meantime, we pray.

Maybe I need to make a list myself…

11 reasons why it will all work out.  Somehow…..