“Just Trust”

Love all, trust a few.

The word, trust, has come up quite a bit for us today. The Cowboy and I had a conversation about trust first thing this morning in regard to a project we’re working on together with someone – and that what we’re counting on from this other party, will happen. Trust came up again later today in regard to an article I’m working on, that I’ll do right by the people involved in it because it’s a genuinely sensitive issue.

In the midst of another interesting discussion tonight. The words, “you just need to trust .. ” were part of a lengthier text we received a few moments ago.

There are reasons, that after years .. heck even days of working with someone, living with someone, knowing someone, you just know that you can trust that person. Wholeheartedly.

Or, that you can’t. Sometimes trust goes away with one incident. Other times, no matter how many chances you give a person, no matter how much you love them or want to believe things will be different this time around, trust is just hard to come by. Why? Because they’ve shown you time and again they can’t take responsibility for their own actions or tell the truth, they’ll screw you over for fun, for spite, to get ahead or .. for really no good reason at all other than a lack of empathy, if given the chance.

Trust – and respect – need to be earned. Not demanded. And I’m amazed anymore at how often people feel these two things are a God given right. Mistrust, more often than not, doesn’t just happen. For no good reason. Heads up.

Can it be earned back? Absolutely. Do people change? Of course. But trust is a biggie. And re-gaining it doesn’t happen overnight. Or, just because someone tells you you should.

There isn’t a morning that goes by I don’t wake and put every ounce of trust I have in the Lord that people all over the world, and in our own circles, will do right by each other. When that doesn’t happen, which is often the case, I trust there is a reason we have yet to learn. And we try again tomorrow.

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My Mother …

Apartment is cleaned up.  Laundry is going.  Coffee is on.  Running clothes are on too so that I’m motivated to workout after writing this, before I run off to work.

Life’s been hectic lately.  A good hectic at times and at other times, exhausting.  More emotionally than anything.  But finally feeling like I have a moment to sit and write.

I wrote most of last week about the mom’s in my life.  And while Mother’s Day has come and gone and this was to be my post on Sunday .. my 100th post .. I’m actually thinking my mom would appreciate that I’ve been trying to take care of some other obligations and things that needed tending to, before taking this break.  Plus, she’d appreciate, I believe, the fact I’ve done nothing but think about her and what was important to write about her now for over a week.

There isn’t a day though that goes by, I don’t think of her and wish I could pick up the phone to actually call .. she was and will always be the woman who became not only my mom, but also eventually my best friend.

………………

Those of you who are a daughter or who have one now .. can imagine it wasn’t always that way.

………………

“I don’t have to listen to you!  You’re not my real mother ..” I remember saying to her more than once when I was growing up.

I’m not sure what she ever said or expected of me that warranted that response.

But I remember saying it.  And regretting it then and now with everything I have.  How often we say things, especially as children, we wish we could take back.  Thankfully I had the chance to make amends for that and any other trouble I may have caused her in her far too short a life .. over and over again.  I did my best anyway.

And even though my mom isn’t here to walk me through how she might handle some of the parenting issues I am now blessed and challenged with .. I believe I have some wonderful insight, hindsight and foresight .. as my daughter tries to get away with some of the same.

🙂

Back to my mom.

I may be looking at this through rose colored glasses .. but I don’t think so.  And even if I am, I don’t care.

Here’s what I remember of my mother:

She went by A. Eileen because she hated her first name.  And she never wanted anyone to know it was Agnes.  But I kind of like it.  Family name.  She was born in Maryland but raised in Madison.  Her own father, Paul died while she was very young of tuberculosis.  She ended up with TB because of it.  Scarring her lungs as a very young child.  She was lucky to have survived, herself.  But it would eventually make her more vulnerable apparently, to the cancer that took her life.  She grew up in both a single parent home and when my grandmother remarried at one point, from everything I understand, in an abusive environment.  She attended Business College.  Met my father in a soda shop on Madison’s east side.  Married and moved to the small town of Poynette where she .. and they would live and work and raise our family, most of the rest of her life.

Our first home was tiny, but from what little I remember of it, she made it a home.  Totally 70’s decor.  Sweet flower beds around the house.  Lilies of the Valley out the front window I still remember the smell of them as they would bloom each spring.  A play set in the backyard.  She was always very proud of how things looked, including herself.  She wasn’t a workout queen.  But she was slender, always kept.

And despite the fact she wore little other makeup, there was always bright pink or red lipstick that went on.

She was simple.  Didn’t need much.  Her closet was minimal.  I stood looking at mine the other day and even now, mine is half the size it was a couple years ago (in part because I keep most of my work clothes now at work because I have no closet space in my old school apartment) .. thinking about how I would like to get down to a wardrobe the size of the one she had.  Life.  More Simple.  I love the thought.  And I am going through my own things little by little doing what I can right now to minimize.  (How and when did we as a society ever go from something four-feet wide being enough to closets the size of an efficiency apartment being the norm?)

She was a wonderful woman with an infectious smile .. and a laugh that seemed to be heard around every corner.  When she was happy.  When she was stressed.  When she would hear us say things we shouldn’t .. knowing the consequence was coming.

She was stern, yet vulnerable.  Beautiful.  Outspoken yet often quiet, introspective and kept to herself.  She was helpful.  Had great penmanship.  I love how she wrote her name.  Is that silly?  Whatever.  She was hard working.  Always wanting to pitch in to help wherever it was needed but knowing when it was time to rest and ‘just be’, as well.  She was all about family.  And community where she could.  Volunteering.  Getting involved.  But she was equally good at hiding out and tending to her own well being .. and that of our family.

She preferred my dad do the cooking, she’d do the dishes or get us to do them.  She and my dad both worked hard.  And in turn, expectations of what we could do and how we could pitch in as a team were high.

Especially as we got older.  Older .. interestingly enough, meaning probably my dear daughter, about the age you are now.

During the summer and on weekends especially, mom wanted a clean house.  With or without company coming.  We were expected to keep our rooms clean, have the laundry done and folded, vacuuming done, floors scrubbed with a rag – not a mop, have the lawn mowed, weeds pulled, the garage swept out, toys put away and whatever our other jobs were, done.  We were expected (ahem .. encouraged strongly if we ever wanted money of our own, ever) to work on top of any of that.  We mowed neighbors lawns.  Had paper routes.  De-tassled corn.  Babysat.  My first ‘real job’ I’m pretty sure was at the flower shop/convenience store in town, where my mom would go everyday for her Pepsi and Hershey’s candy bar for a break from work.  It was right across the street from her office.

Work.  Then play.

Which we were given a lot of room to do as well.

(I had written a bunch about that, but thinking I’ll save that for a post all its own.  The importance of play.  And another .. about having a job when you’re young.  Both are so important, I believe.)

In having many expectations of us, we were also given a lot of freedom to mess up.  Figure things out on our own.  And reap the rewards of being good and doing well, earning trust.  Or suffering the consequences of not making wise choices.  And grounded.  For like .. most of my high school years.  All were gifts that helped us both grow into the people we’ve become.  Like us or not.

Travel.

Mom loved to travel.  But hated to drive (flying wasn’t an option back then on a budget).  And she was terrible about reading maps.  One of my fondest memories though is of her, wherever we would be, in the passenger seat with the map.

My dad would say to her, ‘Where next?  Where do we turn next?’

“Well, I think .. here,” she would say.  And she would almost instantly start laughing.

“You think there?!” my dad would say getting frustrated.

We ended up in places we should not have been traveling on more than one occasion because she would break down in a fit of laughter and tears and not be able to even read the map.  Ultimately ending up in the drivers seat while our dad tried to navigate us out of a mess.

I hear her laughter everyday ..

.. as I glance at the photo I took of her on one of the last road trips we would ever take together.

We were in Montana.  And while at this particular moment we weren’t lost, we were laughing.

The photo reminds me each day of her simple nature, her appreciation for life and finding beauty in the everyday little things, for exploring .. but also in coming home again.  And in being with family.

Love and miss you.

“Let there be more joy and laughter in your living” – Eileen Caddy

(A quote not my mom, but apparently another wise Eileen.)

The Best Advice You Were (Never) Given?

“A successful marriage requires falling in love many times, always with the same person.” – Mignon McLaughlin

…………….

I have a colleague who’s last day at work was today ..

At least for now.

We will see him again soon, only with one change.  Well maybe more than that.  He could come back with a tattoo somewhere we’ll never see.  Or have suddenly decided to become a vegetarian.  But one change that we’ll at least know for sure.  He will return to work in about a week and a half with a shiny new ring on his left hand.

He’s a great guy and he’s marrying a wonderful young woman this weekend, the two have been together quite some time, they seem like a great couple and they are excited to be getting married.

I of course, truly and sincerely wish them every blessing a lifetime of love can bring and the best in their marriage.  So do many, many other family and friends of theirs .. and of course all of our colleagues ..

Yet I heard someone say to him today, jokingly .. ‘it’s not too late.’

I might have said that as well a year ago.  But I would have meant it.

Quite honestly, I’m not so sure the relative newlywed that did say it today didn’t mean it. Actually, I know she did because she followed it up by saying just above a whisper but I was close enough to hear, “I actually meant it.”  Which makes me sad.  It wasn’t long ago she was that person rushing off, so excited to get married.  The wear and tear I already hear in her voice is heartbreaking.  (Perhaps I should show her yesterday’s blog.)

Anyway, a year ago for me, I was done.  Done dating.  For a very long time anyway.  That was my plan.  I had NO intention of even thinking about trying to connect with another person in regard to dating again .. and marriage?  Marriage was simply never again going to be a discussion.  The destruction I was witnessing in so many directions around me regarding other couples was enough to make me swear any of it off, I was almost certain, forever.

After focusing on my health and fitness, staying close to girlfriends I knew had my back and me theirs, working with a life coach and being faithful to pray and go to church, I put it all in God’s hands.  I told myself a year ago, ‘Focus on your daughter and your career because it is clearly a much better use of time and energy.’

I had had it.

Then along comes this cowboy.

…………..

My faith has honestly and genuinely (I am somewhat sincerely shocked) been restored that good marriages/relationships, heck even incredible ones do still exist.  That it is possible to connect with someone on a level so deep, that it’s okay to trust in it.  That it is safe to again, give another person (besides your child) .. everything you’ve got.

But I also believed that, the first go round.

A dear old friend of mine, one whom I miss terribly and have always looked up to, who I had no idea ever ventured to read any of these posts, left a comment today on yesterday’s post .. and the challenge I had linked to about being conscious to say only uplifting, positive things to your spouse and about your spouse to others, for 30 days.

She wrote:”I believe in love, family, marriage. I believe it. I know so many people of divorce did too at one point. Including my own parents. But if you really were honest….would those people of divorce have noticed flaws early on, red flags, where perhaps they should not have gotten married? My own mother said just that…..she always had a bit of a red flag moment in her, that said perhaps they shouldn’t. But it was the 60s…she was 22…EVERYONE got married.I feel awful hearing of friends’ marriages in trouble. Makes me so sad, yet its inevitable. Statistically, its going to happen. I will work every day to make sure that it is not me.

We don’t always see red flags as red flags.  We see them as challenges perhaps we can work through.  Troubles for one person, not you both as a couple, that might heal/get fixed in time.  Or with counseling.  Or that some red flags are ‘just stress’.  Or what I feel my ex and I believed, which was – that it was so great we were complete opposites – because somehow then we complimented each other.

In hindsight .. my ex says his family told him we would never work.

Maybe they did.  But we thought we knew better.  And, we loved each other so we tried.

But in trying, failing and throughout the years since, I have learned quite a few lessons.  Lessons I hope guide me well (they better or I’m going to be really peeved .. ) into the future.

Back to my colleague.  Knowing he and his beautiful bride were heading off into the great known, or dare I say, the great unknown that is marriage … I was pondering today, what possible advice would or could I ever give a couple just starting out, to help them succeed in love .. and marriage.

Would they care what I have to say anyway.

Probably not.  Most often we learn best by falling and getting back up on our own.

But for my own daughter’s sake…

I wanted to jot down a few thoughts so that she may look at this, someday, when she is contemplating any relationship of her own.

Love each other.  Speak kindly to each other.  More kind than is necessary where you can.  Date.. always.  Establish a good cache of babysitters.  Surround yourself with good friends and lots of family.  Know that sometimes friends are family.  But also know when it’s time for it to be, just the two of you.  Communicate.  And if you don’t do it well, find someone who can help you figure it out because it is perhaps the most important thing you can work on – for each other.  Laugh, a lot.  Listen every now and then to the tone of your voice and make sure it sounds the way you are hoping to be heard.  Hold hands.  Take walks.  Remember, it’s not always 50/50.  Chances are any slacking in one area by your spouse is being more than made up for by your slacking in another area.  Pray, together.  Don’t put a TV in the bedroom.  Ask each other about your day and mean it.  Spend less time worrying who is right and more time worrying about what is right.  Have one standing meeting each week where you can bring your grievances/frustrations to the table, talk about it and work out a solution together when it’s not in the heat of the battle.  (My ex and I learned this through years of counseling and thousands of dollars billing.  Don’t spend the money to hear the same, just do it.  It was one of the best things we did.)  Continue those standing meetings even if everything is going well and use it instead to celebrate all that is right.  (My ex and I failed on this part here.  Which may be among the reasons we are no longer together.)  ‘Let your love be stronger than your hate or your anger.  Learn the wisdom of compromise, for it is better to bend a little than to break.’  (- Jane Wills)  Remind yourself each morning of why the person next to you is a blessing in your life.  And perhaps do the same again each night, before you go to bed.

I’m sure I’m missing a few big ones here.  But those are just a few thoughts off the top of my head.  Thoughts that might someday be helpful to you, my beautiful daughter.  Who knows about anyone else.  Anyway, I never had a conversation like this with my own parents, in terms of what strengthens any relationship/marriage.  It’s one, in hindsight, I wish I had been able to have .. and still hope to with my dad, among others I know carry volumes of relationship wisdom from a life well lived.

Given I know a few people at least are reading this .. I am wondering, what advice would you give to newlyweds?  Or, to those even currently in a marriage but struggling.  What does it take to not only make a marriage work anymore, but work well, thrive and last?

You may now kiss the bride.  Or whoever has helped you learn those lessons.  🙂

Cheers.

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?

Surprises ..

Anyone need a big black sign that says Happy Birthday You’re 40?

I’m trying to clean up the mess that is my home this morning and I’m not quite sure what to do with the banner I’ve got sitting in a bag filled otherwise with wine, a bottle of locally made fine vodka, a whole slew of cards and a few gifts I have yet to get to on my living room floor.

I’m definitely hanging onto the beverages.  But the sign.  Given I prefer recycling to further contributing to the trash heap outside town where I can…  Anyone… Anyone want it or need it for their own celebration?

…………….

I’ve not given a whole lot of thought (yet) to the fact I’m turning 40 this year.

I figured I’d get around to that .. perhaps the night or the few minutes before the clock strikes twelve on my ‘special day’.

Our family has always celebrated birthdays, but very quietly.  Growing up it was always dinner with my dad, brother, grandmother, perhaps my aunt and uncle.  An angel food cake that my mom would make.  A few gifts.  That’s it.

Because of this, I have never made a big deal out of birthdays that I can remember.  In fact .. when I turned 21, just about everyone in my group that night was three sheets to the wind.  I drove them home.

I am also typically not a big fan of surprises.  So the two, surprises and a big party, combined in any fashion is not something I would ever say I want.

…………….

The Cowboy has been bugging me for awhile about what we’re going to do .. about the ‘special birthday’ I have coming up.

“I don’t know yet,” I keep saying..  “Well, I do want to get a few key family members together because we need to …  But other than that, nothing,”  I tell him.

With a few of those key family members in town, just a fraction of the larger group I would like to have time with … some of us were going to get together this weekend.  For dinner.  A nice, intimate little dinner I thought was a belated Easter get-together.

The Cowboy and I walked in.  I started to look around to see where they might all be.

Quickly a hand went around my waist, steering me left.

“They are over here,” says the Cowboy.

“How do you know where they are sitting,” I asked him.

And before he could answer ..

I see a room full of people.  All of whom I love … family and friends … all from very different parts of my life …

“Happy Birthday!” they shouted.  I think, anyway.  I was so taken back, and quite honestly, shocked .. I really can’t remember what all transpired or what was said.

It was the most wonderful chaos.

One I never would have asked for or thought I wanted.  But one I will forever cherish.

A night the Cowboy had planned for months with the help of a few friends, kept a secret and made special in so many ways, as I head toward a new chapter and decade in my life.

“I just wanted to get everyone together who loves you .. think its important you know how so many feel about you,” the Cowboy told me.

I’m still not sure what to say ..  other than thank you all.  For those who were there that night.

For those who came from far away, who rearranged plans, who lied to me for months out of the goodness of their hearts, who I haven’t seen in forever but who have touched my life far beyond what they will truly ever know.

For those that wanted to be there but couldn’t.   For those who helped the Cowboy pull it off.  For the notes and gifts and well wishes ..  especially the wine.  Please stop by and let’s share.

There are few opportunities we get in life I think, to really look around and realize in one moment, how blessed we are by the people in our lives.

Usually it is at a wedding, or a funeral.

Or .. a birthday celebration.

I am reminded though, after nights like the other night, how important it is we take advantage of every occasion to appreciate those we love and that are around us.  It is something I try to do as often as I can .. but that there never seems enough time to do, as well as I might want or like.  I would assume that is the case for us all.

But even those who stopped by for a few moments, made a statement that to me will last a lifetime.

Setting fear aside ..

“I can’t believe she doesn’t know how to ride a bike..”

That is the reaction we would get from just about everyone who happened to come across the little tidbit of information that my 10 year old didn’t know how to ride a bike.  Not only did she not know, but she absolutely refused to learn.

“That’s just crazy,” they would say.  “Why doesn’t she want to learn?”

It’s been this way for years now.

She will go 40 mph down a mountainside on skiis despite having rammed head on into a tree when she was probably 4 years old.  No fear to get back up.  She will ride on a scooter.  A skateboard.  She will get on any horse and enjoys not just a leisurely walk.  But an all out run.

Yet she won’t get on a bike.

I don’t know if it was the 4th of July neighborhood parade incident years ago that scarred her when she fell and the decorative red, white and blue pipecleaner on the handlebar went clear through her hand ..

Or if she .. for some reason .. has just truly not wanted to learn.

“C’mon…” I used to say.  “Everyone knows how to ride a bike.  It’s just something you do.  It will be fun!  We can go together.  You have to learn.”

“Not me,” she would reply.  “Not unless it’s the law.  Is it a law?” she used to ask.

I was getting ready to call the Governor’s office.  Who I knew perpiherally through work and who used to live in our modest little neighborhood. I was certain would help me out.

“It is a law, my law.. ” and would say, laughing.  “Would it help to have a call from the Governor?”

“No.  I’m NOT RIDING A BIKE.

………..

The Cowboy and I were determined with some lovely downtime for us this week .. that she would learn.  And she’s been softening to the idea more and more .. especially since the handsome young boy she often hangs out with now and who lives next door to us rides his bike all the time.

“What do you want to do today,” we asked as she woke on Saturday.

“I want to ride,” she replied.

“Well, if you want to ride the horses later today, you’ve got to first try to ride a bike,” the Cowboy and I said, united.

“Ok.”

………

She didn’t want either of us to help, at least not at first.

The Cowboy tried.

She got off, came back to the porch and said, “I want to do this alone.”

“And two minutes.  I’m only going to try for two minutes.”

We left her alone.  For awhile.  Two minutes came and went and she was down at the end of the Cowboy’s gravel drive still trying.  I went to see if I could help.

We went down the road and back.  A couple times.  The dog in tow ..

“You can do this,” I said.  “You just need some momentum.  It’s hard to start from a dead stop.”

She actually listened.  Didn’t get mad.  Didn’t fuss.  She tried.  And after a few more attempts ..was up and pedaling.

For about 15 feet.

Next try, just a little bit more.  And a little bit more.  By this time, we were coming back up the drive and nearing the porch.

“Ok.”  I tried.  “Can we ride the horses now?”

………

The Cowboy asked if I could see the smile on her face.

I couldn’t.  But knowing that made my heart smile.

So did the fact that Sunday morning, when we came back in the house after returning from town, she wasn’t behind us.  The Cowboy looked out the window …

“She’s on the bike,” he said.

First of (hopefully not) many to come?

It is a peaceful morning at the Cowboy’s ranch.

The sun is shining.  There is a slight breeze blowing.  No tv or music playing.

It is just quiet.

My daughter and I a few minutes ago, sat down to the coffee, bacon and waffles the Cowboy made for us before leaving for an appointment.

We had slept in, rolling in early this morning after a much later departure than I had hoped for last night.

………….

This is the start to our spring break this year ..

Well, I wish this were the start.  I like this start better.  We are instead going this morning, with .. the ‘do-over’ I wrote about a few posts ago.

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“Mom, can I have a hug,” my daughter asks as we were still lying in bed this morning.

She’s lying on her side, looking at me with one eye.  The other eye is buried in her pillow.  We are mirroring each other in that respect.

I give her a hug.  “I love you, honey..” I say.

The hug rounds out one of the first big fights we have ever had.

Well, actually, that she had with me last night as we were trying to get the car packed and actually get out of town.  I had a long time on the drive here last night to think about what set it all off.  And, we’ve talked about it since.  But ..

This was truly the first, and quite honestly, impressive (not in a good way) rant I’ve seen from her.

Normally we might have some pouting.  Some name calling.  Some assertiveness and being bossy.  She hasn’t been terrible about that.  She’s usually a pretty great kid and under control.  But this was a no good knock down drag out throw every nasty name in the book and do what I can to hurt mom kind of fight.  That was before the threats to throw yogurt all over the car (I almost doubled over laughing about the thought of that one as she threatened while I put gas in the car), dump my coffee (gasp! she knows my weak spot) and pinch me as hard as she could.

The “I don’t love you anymore I just want my dad the rest of my life and I wish you were never born,” kind of fight.

And it all started with me simply asking her to clean the cats litter boxes before we left.

“I tried,” she fussed at me, as I went to pour in more fresh litter and discovered there was still a lot to be cleaned.

I went to look for the scooper.

It was hiding in a corner, freshly snapped in two.

“Child (insert name)?” I ask .. “How did the scoop get broken?  Did that just happen?”

“No.  And .. It just broke,” she replied.

“It didn’t ‘just break‘ honey, what happened?  We have others coming to care for the cats and now the scoop is broke?” I say, increasingly frustrated at this point.  Frustrated my child (my fault at this point) isn’t better at handling a few simple chores.  And that we’re not already on the road.

“Why are you being so mean to me,” she asks.

I try and take stock of how I’m talking to her .. thinking, uh oh, did I push her too far?  Am I that frustrated trying to get out the door I’m taking it out on her?  Or, is it that I’m holding her accountable for one of two relatively simple tasks she’d rather not do, that’s has her so upset.  But it’s too late.  She’s in a full fledged rage, screaming bloody murder as she scoops the last of the clumps out of the litter box with half a scoop saying she doesn’t want to go with me now, and just wants her dad.  I keep doing what I’m doing, trying to stay focused and let her have this moment, hoping meanwhile that the neighbors aren’t getting concerned something else more traumatic is going on.  Next thing I know she’s unpacking all of her things from the car.  And on the phone.  To dad.

Now.. thank goodness he and I are in a place where .. even in divorce .. this no longer even remotely pits the two of us against each other.  If anything, her growing up and trying to play either of us has us talking and getting along better than we perhaps ever have.  And he knows she has called me at the slightest point of upset on his end.  It’s good to know we’ve got each others backs here.

(If I have learned anything important to pass along through my own divorce, it’s that .. if there is even a chance as a mom or dad you can present a united front .. despite separate homes, it makes a huge difference.  Not always in the moment, but in the big picture.  That’s for just about anything that may come up.)

But it was brutal.  For quite some time.  I let her keep going with it and ignored her for the most part, wondering how long she might keep it up.  And I was generally impressed with the steady stream of insanity that flowed from her healthy vocal chords.  I didn’t realize she had that in her to be honest.  At a few times I had to hold back a smile.  Which upset her even more.

It only ended as we were finally on the road about 20 minutes from home and she was furious I hadn’t started to cry.  My 10-year-old took off her seatbelt and threatened to open the door and jump out because it would be better than staying in the car with me.  And then she went for the gear shift and power button.  (Yes, my car has a power button.)

It was time to put this to an end.

She begged me to stop so that she could go to the bathroom and I told her that was perfect because she had gone on long enough and I was concerned now about both our safety.  And lucky for us, I knew that State Patrol headquarters was right next to the string of restaurants and gas stations we were heading for.

“If you can’t get this under control for yourself,” I said .. “perhaps we need to go and talk with the police.  Because I’m worried you’re going to hurt either yourself or both of us and  can’t let you do that.”

Snap.  She’s out of it.

“Are you hungry?” I ask.

We pull up to Culver’s and get out.

“I’m so sorry, mommy…..” she says as she walks around the front of the car toward me offering her arms for a hug.

“I think it’s puberty.  I’m pretty sure that’s why I’m doing this.  Can I have some ice cream?”

………….

I pray this is not a regular occasion.

But I also know, I gave my own parents a few doozies when I was her age.  Probably not to the extent I got last night, because I knew there would be a hand on my face at the first utter of some of the words she chose last night or a hand mark on my behind.  But I’m sure my words at that time, cut close.

I’m not proud of that.

In fact, and my daughter and I have talked about this already this morning.  If I have any regrets from a life otherwise well lived .. it is that I ever said some of the things I did to my parents.  That I know had to have stung .. just a bit.  In particular, to my own mother.

She used to say .. “I can hardly wait until you have your own kids…” with a smile on her face.

I am learning, day by day .. what she meant..

…………

It is still quiet here at the ranch this now Saturday afteroon.

The dishes are cleared and put away after a late brunch..

And I’ve had a few wonderful moments to sit and write again after a chaotic week…

I can hear the truck coming up the drive ..

The Cowboy is has returned.

And we’re going outside to learn how to ride a bike ..

Which, she also doesn’t want do.

Let’s see how this one goes..