The Best Laid Plans

Dear friends,

The best laid plans often go awry.

 I had the worst Valentine’s Day ever. For weeks I had plans to have dinner with my daughter on Valentine’s Day. On Valentine’s Day eve however, my ex mother in law called and insisted on having Valentine’s Day dinner together. I couldn’t shake her off so I got stuck having dinner with my ex in laws sans my ex husband on Valentine’s Day. My ex husband had been on a ‘business trip’ the past three weeks and during dinner, he called to say his flight got cancelled and that he would be back after Valentine’s Day. How very convenient.

At dinner, my daughter was crying and kept pointing to her right ear – a sign that she was coming down with an ear infection. I had an important meeting at work the next day and couldn’t work from home. So I told my ex in laws to take her home with them so they could take her to the doctor the next day. I was awashed with mommy guilt but I had (and am still having) a well deserved break. I had been with my daughter for three weeks straight which included a bout of fever, cold and a snow day. We’ve spiced up our time together with plenty of play dates with our neighbors but it does get exhausting. 

We have a long weekend this weekend on my side of the world. I’ll be alone since I am relationship-less at the moment and my daughter will be with her dad. But I’ve filled my weekend with activities so I don’t feel bored. 

I’ve been divorced for almost 10 months and living apart from my ex husband for more than 2 years now – I’ve forgotten how it was like to be married. Today I was trying to imagine how it would be like on a long weekend when I was married. I would have someone to spend time with. We would probably have no plans. We would probably drive to one of the same old restaurants to have the same old dinner. And then maybe we’d watch a movie at home when our daughter was asleep. I can’t remember if in the later years of our marriage we would be spooning each other on our sectional couch or if we would just be sitting beside each other, each distracted with our own phones while watching the movie. And it would be another sexless weekend or we would go through the ordeal of a planned sex session. But most of all, I remember how we would try so hard to make it a fun weekend but it was in actuality – wait for it – boring. 

Last night I went for a friend’s birthday drinks. Tonight I’ve organized dinner with a bunch of divorced strangers on the Meetup app. On Sunday I just booked myself for an ice skating lesson and a pole dancing lesson. On Monday I will be getting a facial and a wax. I am relationship-less on a long weekend but guess what – it will not be a boring weekend after all. 

So friends – the best laid plans may not happen in life. But sometimes that’s the best thing to ever happen in your life. 

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The Haves And The Have Nots

Dear friends,

For the past couple days, I have been struggling internally. You see my ex husband has been on this business trip and has not shown up nor called our daughter for the past three weeks. And I have been stalking our joint bank account.

I know, I know. I haven’t stalked in a while and I really shouldn’t care what he’s up to now that we are divorced. But it’s hard whenever he does something that triggers bad feelings in me – like going on ‘business trips’ and ghosting. Believe me – I do not ever want to get back together with him because cheating on me is the last straw. In fact his affair partner or whoever he’s with right now could have him for all I care since I know this is a man who comes with issues. But what bothers me most is that even though he was the one who caused our breakup, he hasn’t suffered any consequences. I’m the one bearing the brunt of the day-to-day child rearing – and even though I wouldn’t have it any other way, it does get exhausting and it doesn’t leave me much time for myself.

And of course tomorrow being Valentine’s Day, my Facebook is starting to explode with declarations of love from people to their significant other. And here I am, pushing 37 and wondering if I’m attractive enough, if I’ve gained too much weight lately, if I’ll ever find a good guy, if I’ll ever find love again…What if – and it’s a high possibility – my ex husband remarries and I have to deal with his new wife for the rest of my custody duration?!? 

Then today as I was walking my daughter to school on this cold and windy but sunny Monday morning, I looked around at the craziness that is New York City and I said to myself – you know what – right now I have everything that I’ve ever wished for. I’m living in the city that I love, I have a beautiful and healthy child and I have a great career that affords my child a good lifestyle. And when I focused on what I have and not what I don’t have – I started to feel happier. 

I may not be in a relationship again. I may not find love again. My ex may remarry again. These are things in my future that are beyond my control. And if I worry about these things now, I fail to appreciate the good stuff that’s already happened in my life.

So friends, for a lot of you in bad relationships or who are going through break ups, Valentine’s Day tomorrow may suck. But focus on what you have, appreciate the good things you have going in your life right now. And trust that the law of attraction will bring the good stuff back in your life. 

Talking To Others 

Dear friends,

It’s finally happened today. The moment that I’ve thought about and rehearsed in my head happened today. 

Because of the snow storm, the schools were closed and we had a snow day today. I worked from home and my daughter was with me. The fantastic thing about our building is that there are many kids in our building who all go to the same school so my daughter has more of a social life than I do. Me, a friend and my next door neighbor ‘hosted’ a play date – meaning we had a joint open door policy allowing the kids to run between three apartments. 

My apartment is the smallest since I’m a single mom and I only have one kid. Kids being kids – I always get very honest comments from kids like “Wow your apartment is even smaller than mine!” Or “This place is really small.”

And I always acknowledge and say “Yes it is small because we don’t have a lot of people living here.” 

Today it finally happened. 

A first grader asked “Does G have a dad?”

Our next door neighbor who is kindergartner chimed in “I’ve never seen G’s dad. It’s always just two people.”

The first grader gasped “Are you divorced?”

Now I’m proud of my single mom status. To be a single mom and to be able to give my child a comparable lifestyle (and more) to dual parent families, in my opinion, is really brave and is an achievement. But I’ve always been nervous about explaining our single family status to my daughter’s peers – like how do I talk Divorce to kids? I know divorced families are common these days but it’s not like people really talk about it and in the face of ‘happy’ and ‘complete’ families in school, I really don’t want the other kids to treat my daughter like a freak. 

So I answered “Yes I am divorced. G’s dad doesn’t live with us. He lives in another state but G sees him every week.” 

The great thing about today is that there are so many different types of family structures. There are divorced families, single parent families, blended families, gay families… Just the other day, one of the dads in my daughter’s class presented to the class about their family and read them a book about having two dads. I’m a firm believer in exposure and that acceptance and respect of others’ different beliefs, lifestyles and cultures begins at a young age. 

So if you find yourself stuck in a bad situation because you are afraid or embarrassed about how others may perceive you or your loved ones – don’t. There is nothing wrong with being different. At the end of the day, it’s better to tell the story of a warrior than that of someone who was afraid to give a new life a chance. 

The Victim vs. The Fighter

Dear friends,

When something bad happens to you, you usually feel like a victim. In fact, it is ok to feel like a victim – because you are a victim of a bad situation! But after a while, dry your tears, dust off your fears and use the injustice to fuel you to be a fighter! 

I believe that everyone has choices. You could either choose the negative (victim) or positive (fighter). Being a victim leaves you in a powerless situation. It means you are helpless and won’t stop blaming yourself and others for your misfortune. It means you’ve given up hope of this situation ever getting better. And it leaves you bitter.

Being a fighter helps you to take back your power. It puts you in the driver seat. You are given a second chance to steer. It allows you to gain back control of your situation. And most importantly – it gives you hope. 

When I found out I was cheated on, I could’ve chosen to stay victim forever. I could’ve continued blaming my ex husband. I could’ve turned bitter toward his affair partner. I could’ve stayed stuck in a marriage where I have been disrespected because I feared being a single mom. But I accepted the situation. It happened. It was an eye opener. I will learn life lessons out of it.

 And I’m choosing to fight for a better life.

So dear friends, don’t give up. Fight. The battle is hard. You fear you may not win. But fight hard. And take the power back in your hands. 

Your New Normal

Dear friends,

As you settle into your new life, you will begin to develop new routines and habits. The changes could include a change in your daily routine, behavior and mindset. Soon the new will become your new normal. 

For me, my new normal is embracing the single mom lifestyle. It’s just me and my kid for now and I’m determined to have a fun life with her. Even though we are 31 years apart, I regard her as my little companion. We go out to eat at restaurants together. We go to the movies together. We check out museums together. We travel together. Yes I am currently limited by her schedule and her preferences – I need to make sure the restaurants we go to serve pizza, chicken nuggets or fries, and the only movies we watch together are cartoons… I’m sure our preferences will be more aligned as she gets older. 

Rome wasn’t built in a day so it’ll take time for you to get used to your new normal. There will be good days and there will be bad days. On those bad days when I’m beyond exhausted, I would get irritated at my daughter for not doing what I want her to do. And I would resent the fact that I’m doing this parenthood thing alone. And I would get worried that this is how the rest of my life is going to be – that I will never date or be in a relationship with a man again and I’ll just be resigned to growing old alone once my daughter grows up and has a life of her own. But then I will go to bed and the next day I will feel better.

And every time I feel tempted to sign up for a dating app or reconnect with an old fling just to get that validation, I remind myself that I’m choosing to be intentionally single right now because I don’t want to have to deal with emotional drama. And that I’m choosing to focus all my energy on my daughter.

So as you adjust to your new normal, know that it takes time for you to get used to your new life. And know that on some days you might regress. But as time goes by, you will be more comfortable in your new life and it will no longer be a new life but your normal life. Stay strong and stay focused on forging that new fabulous life of yours. 

Thoughts…

A travel ban doesn’t stop terrorism. Racial tolerance, having respect and understanding for one another’s culture, religion and traditions might minimize the threat of terrorism. You might think that someone’s culture and beliefs are extreme – that someone might think that your culture and beliefs are extreme too. It is not fair to impose your way of life as the only way of life on someone. At the every core, we are all humans, governed by morals and a basic love of humanity and the same blood flows through our veins… 

Finding Support

Dear friends,

Yesterday my daughter attended a ski class with a bunch of kindergarteners from her school. The class was arranged by my next door neighbor whose youngest daughter is the same age as my daughter and attends the same school. We also ran into a couple of her schoolmates at the ski resort since it’s one of the closest ski resorts to where we live. We had fun and my daughter picked up a couple of basics. 

Later that evening I told my close friend about our ski adventure and she mentioned something that’s stuck in my head since. She said that even though a bad thing happened to me, I have a good support system now.

And it’s true. As luck would have it, my next door neighbor has two older kids who also attend the same school as our daughters so she’s introduced me to a couple other parents. I have a close friend living in my building whose daughters also attend the same school and who I’ve relied on to help drop off or pick up my daughter on those days where I had early morning or late night meetings. And my work is pretty flexible and allows me to work from home as needed. My bosses know about my situation and are very understanding. In return, I’m 100% when I’m at work. 

I can’t stress enough about the importance of having a support system to help you through a bad situation and establish a new life. Some people like keeping their lives private but the danger of keeping bad feelings bottled up when you truly need help is that one day you might explode. You should reach out and ask for help when you need it. And you’ll be surprised at the most unlikely people that would show up for you. 

When it comes to sharing about your personal life, it’s up to you whether you want to share but sometimes telling someone might make you feel better. I’m an open book when it comes to my personal life but some people prefer remaining quiet about their lives. I say – share to an extent that you feel comfortable with and with someone you trust. Sometimes you’re most comfortable sharing with a complete stranger – hence a therapist may be a viable choice. I saw a therapist for a little over a year after I discovered the affair and I thought it helped. Or maybe it doesn’t even have to be someone to talk to – maybe writing is a better outlet for you to capture your thoughts and vent your emotions. Whatever it is, you need to do something to relieve yourself of the stress and feel better. 

I hope that if you have a good support system that is helping you get through this. And when you are strong enough and have gotten through the worst of it, you can be the support system for someone else too.