“Damaged Goods”

24 May

I told D I was ready for our children to meet. So far, we’ve been having a secretive affair, mostly meeting at night, sneaking out and leaving by dark. I haven’t met his friends. He’s met mine once, at my birthday party, where we were all crazy drunk.

He said he wasn’t ready. And I couldn’t let it go.

So I wrote him a letter, about the separation we’ve created between our relationship and our lives, how we’re conducting an affair within this bubble of nightly encounters, in which we love each other and have great sex, and offer one another a brief moment of peace before going back to our hectic schedules. I presented it as if it were a bad thing. I said I was ready to take our relationship to the next level, the one where it is integrated with the rest of our existence. Where we meet during the day as our kids play, or have Friday evening dinners together.

He answered kindly. He said he loved me, but he wasn’t ready. He said he’d only recently been given back his life, after eight years in which he felt like he wasn’t allowed to be himself. And now, he’s healing, and it’ll take time. This is why he can’t move any further with me.

The first thing I sensed from his letter was love. It was tenderly written. Then I saw the immense pain, the scabs and wounds, and I was thankful he shared them with me. Then I realized, I’m still following my pattern. Falling for men that aren’t there yet, that like me, are damaged, that like me, are in the midst of a healing process. And it made me really sad. Because until recently, D was exactly what I’d been craving. A solid relationship, where there was love and understanding and warmth and comfort and great sex, but that was completely separated from the rest of my life. When I met him, I still said things like, “I don’t see myself living with anyone again.”

But now that’s changed. I’m craving such closeness, to have the man I love become a true part of my life. But more than that, I want more than anything for him to choose me – to really choose me. Not just to be with me. I spent 13 years of my life loving someone who loved me a little less, who stopped loving me at one point, who thought about leaving me for six months without my knowledge, through the end of my pregnancy with our child, who left me with a four month old infant. So I’m constantly looking for proof – that I’m not just wasting my time, my energy, my emotions on a man who might never be ready for the next step. My insecurity is really getting in the way of my patience.

What’s odd, is that actually, our little arrangement meets my needs perfectly. I do love my life, and it is FULL, I mean, it’s hard to squeeze a pin in. My job, my son, my close friends, who are like family to me, my grief, my growth. It almost feels like the only reason I want to move forward with D, is to know that I can, like I’m still seeking proof that he wants me, that we’re not just passing time.

I’m damaged. He’s damaged. I guess that’s what relationships in your thirties are like. It’s more complicated than it was when in our first time around, falling in love, testing out the waters of closeness. There’s a knowledge that you can’t un-know now, that things end, even when you think they’ll last forever. That people may betray you, even if you think they’re trustworthy.

I do love D. He is the perfect prescription for my loneliness, my grief, my need to be held, enveloped, complimented, loved. Why can’t I just embrace the gift that he is and not constantly worry about what’ll happen when it expires?

Tomato Paste Math

22 May

tomato paste

I love grocery shopping with my boy. This probably has to do with the fact that I love food and cooking, but also because almost a year ago, when he turned two, I realized I could actually get stuff done around the house, if I only stopped trying to keep him busy while I cleaned, cooked and set the table, and instead included him in all these activities. Since then, cooking together has become a ritual, and grocery shopping one of our favorite activities.

He sits in the shopping cart, and as we shop I tell him stories about where all food comes from. How the bread is made of wheat, and the strawberry yogurt he loves so much is made of milk that we get from cows and strawberries. That the pasta we buy is imported from Italy, but the tomatoes we use to make the sauce grow locally. I give him tasks: “Sweetie can you please pick out three beautiful zucchinis for me and put them in the bag?” And responsibility: “You are in charge of eggs. We can’t forget to buy eggs so when you see the eggs you have to remind me, OK?”

Yesterday, as we were shopping I noticed a sale on tomato paste. Six containers for a special price. They were small plastic containers, connected at the top in pairs and in fours. “OK honey, we need to get six of these. Let me see… Here, six!” I said and I handed him a pair.

He looked at them and laughed. “That’s not six! One, two.”

“Oh my, you’re right. Let me try again.” And I handed him four. “Six!” I said.

He seemed convinced this time, but he counted: “One, two, three… four! Mommy it’s four. It’s not six!”

“Oh no, what are we going to do?” I asked sadly, holding the pair in one hand and the four containers in the other. “We need six.” I brought my hands closer together. “And we only have four and two.”

He looked and the containers. Without saying anything else he began to count: “One, two, three, four, five, six! Mommy there are six!”

“Oh my, you’re right! Together there are six! Four and two are six!”

And that’s how my son got his first addition lesson ever at the supermarket.

“Those Ritalin Kids”

21 May

Yesterday afternoon there was a party at my son’s daycare. The theme was a farm, and it was super fun, from songs and old McDonald, to milking a cow, and petting a goat. The party ended with a huge inflatable castle that the children jumped on with joy. It was loud and exhausting and took place in the aftenoon, by which time I had only limited energy left. It also happened to take place on one of those workdays that just sucks all around, not to mention I was premenstrual as hell. But I kept it together, and I enjoyed seeing my child participate in the activities, raise his hand and wait his turn (and he’s not even three yet!) By the time the jumping began, I sat down on a little stool, staring into mid air, glad the day was almost over.

It was the end of the party, and most of the younger children had already gone home. The older boys were still going nuts on the inflatable castle, jumping, crashing and screaming with joy, when the teacher said it was time to get off. One of the mothers then said, jokingly: “You can fold up the castle with the kids in it. The ones that are still jumping are the ones whose parents wouldn’t care anyway.” Another mother heared this and laughed and added “Those ritalin kids.”

Now, I am a fairly cynical person, and I can take a joke. Really, I can even take a hollocaust joke every now and then, and I’m Jewish. But having a person who does not even know me, joke at the expense of my son was too much. I know I was overly sensitive, but I was so insulted I couldn’t let this sentence out of my mind for the entire evening, and here I am blogging about it.

First of all, it’s ignorant and stupid. Three year old boys on an inflatable castle are not supposed to behave any differently than how those children behaved. They are supposed to be happy, jump and scream, that is the whole point of the activity. Secondly, even if it were a group of hyperactive three year olds, who the hell are you to joke about how their mothers feel about them and how much they care. Thirdly, as a teacher, I have met children who really needed medication to overcome attention disorders, who were much happier as a result. It is rare. And those kids are ten, not three. Really, ritalin and other medications are SO overused, it makes me angry that people talk about it so lightly. Lastly, uhhhh I could just keep talking forever about how ignorant, stupid and disrespectful what that mother said was, but it’ll do me no good.

I should have told her off, I would have felt better. But since I didn’t, I’ll do the second best thing and write it down, so I can stop thinking about it. Oh, and thank god my boy has a mother who knows better.

Itineraries, Sexy Rendezvous and Maintaining Sanity

9 May

Today is a down day, how surprising, as it’s a Saturday and I am home alone with no itinerary. I woke up at ten and it took me a full hour to get out of bed. Finally I was up, getting some work done in my pajamas. I had some coffee, but I only remembered to eat when I felt like I was going to faint. You’d think I’d have this down by now. I just don’t know how to be alone anymore.

On a different front, things are going pretty well with D. We seem to have survived my meltdown last Saturday, and our nearly six month old relationship is slowly evolving, two steps forward, one step back. Each in turn pushing forward, and pulling away. It’s like a series of contractions, only less painful and more pleasurable. I clutch and he releases, I release my grip and he tightens his. I’m desperate, he’s patient, I’m easy, and I can sense his need.

He’s working this weekend and again we’re finding little loopholes in our schedules to see each other. It’s kind of exciting, these hastened lunch breaks and naked afternoon rendezvous. Yesterday, on his way to work, he dropped by for an hour, and I was waiting for him in a tight sheer spaghetti strap top, and a skirt that I never wear without tights, since it’s way too short to be appropriate. But this time I passed on the tights, and underwear too for that matter.

It was one of the sexiest encounters I’ve had with him, or with anyone. He was beside himself with excitement, and something more, a kid of gratitude that you can only understand if you’ve been in a sexless relationship for a long time, especially in one that made you feel emasculated. There he was, showing me in every way that he could not resist me, his body warm, built just the right amount, his biceps streching his Tshirt only slightly, his face unshaven, his bristles prickly as he kissed my shoulders and neck.  “I missed you, zalataya.” (That’s my new nickname) “A lot.”

Minutes later he was naked and on top of me, my skirt rolled up, his arm firm around my neck and his other hand grabbing me by my waist. He moved me, positioned me, and repositioned me, and I loved him in control, molding our bodies like an artist. There’s a moment during sex when my mind goes foggy, and even if I tried I wouldn’t be able to think of anything. All systems shut down. I love that moment.

It was such good sex, that when we were done, I kissed him and said thank you. That made him crack up and he said, “I’m crazy about you.” and after a pause he added, “A lot”. And that made me laugh. We lay there in bed, holding each other and smiling to ourselves, and I wanted to hashtag the moment #Feeling blessed motherfuckers.   

Yesterday was an up day. I was at work in the morning, then running errands, meeting D, family dinner, and meeting up with J for a beer later that evening. All time accounted for. No time to overthink my life or sink into melancholia.

I really should stick to what I know.

Insecurities and Meltdowns

4 May

My insecurities got the best of me the other day. Missing M horribly, crying nonstop, panicking about everything and anything. I finally cracked and went berserk on D. Just like I had told myself I wouldn’t.

If he only says I love you in response to me saying it, how can I be sure he really means it? I was going nuts imagining how he’d be off soon enough leaving me, alone once again, surprised and insulted, unloved for months without having suspected.

I was sobbing hysterically when I finally decided to text him. It was one of those things you don’t think through, and you kind of know that if you did – you’d stop. But it was a mistake I wanted to make, moreover, it felt like something I needed to do, so badly that it would be a mistake not to.

I was straightforward. Maybe I shouldn’t have said anything, but at least there was no beating around the bush. He responded clearly: He loved me. He thought I was incredible. I gave him things that had been missing from his life for years. He wished he could say something more to convince me that that’s how he felt.

I took a screenshot. I would have to reread this message in the future. I said: Thank you. I’ll try to remember that.

Then he came over and we had sex and went to the Robbie Williams concert which was awesome. By the time we got back home, it felt like things had gone back to normal between us, and I thought to myself, it’s not such a high price to pay, my emotional meltdowns, to be with me. I’m kind of a catch.

Girls Gone Wild Memorial

1 May

bird

The narrow wooden gate opened and we fell silent for a moment. Stepping through the gate and onto the huge deck, we took in the view, the ocean, the caldera, the little white houses on the slope of the mountain, the breeze, the birds that chirped all around and wandered along the breakfast bar, in search of breadcrumbs. It was almost too much. It had been very, very long since I’d seen something so beautiful. Long enough to forget that beauty like this existed.

Twelve hours earlier, I had taken my Boy to see the fireworks. It was his first Independence Day that he could really grasp and might actually remember, now that he was almost three. He was so happy and excited, and he fell into a deep peaceful sleep on our way home. Straight to bed. No shower or teeth brushed. That could all wait.

On tiptoes, I made the final arrangements. Washed the dishes. Checked my bag for passport and ticket. In a couple of hours my mom would be coming over to stay with my son and I would be off to Santorini, a place that my only connection to was M. It was the money she’d left us. It was the directions she’d given. To go to where she was at 18, when everything was possible and there was no glass ceiling to life. To where she’d been hoping to go with J, between treatments, before she ran out of time. It was a carefree spring break. It was a trip down memory lane. It was our Girls Gone Wild Memorial.

Like he was synced with my plans, two minutes before my alarm went off at 1:00 am, my Boy woke up with a bad dream. And that was that. He remembered suddenly that I was leaving. He was beside himself, clinging to my shirt, hysterical. Finally I had to go. So I did, and left him crying with my mom, telling myself to trust her.

Taxi with E. Picking up J. Meeting G and the airport. Us four. We used to be five.

Tickets, passports, security, duty free, overpriced coffee. The excitement was building up. If only my mother would text me to say things were OK. They’re sleeping, I told myself. And then the flight, laughing hysterically, talking way too loudly and being inappropriate. Landing in Athens, layover, freaking out since my mom hadn’t texted yet. Finally hearing from her. Everything’s fine, I shouldn’t have worried. Boarding. More inappropriateness. Landing. Finding our driver. More inappropriateness… And then traffic, and lots of it…

By the time we got to the hotel, we’d been on the road for almost ten hours and were exhausted. But then that gate opened, and from that moment on, there were no worries. No crying children and fretting over them. It was just peaceful and lovely. And by lovely I mean beautiful, but also full of love.

black sand

If I could possibly be less cynical, I’d say she was there with us, M, laying on the black sand, drinking smoothies and cocktails, dipping her feet into the frozen infinity pool, enjoying the out of season weather, assuring it would never get too warm, rolling her eyes at the look on my face when I saw a lobster on my plate for the first time, and had to ask J to “deal with it”.

She would have chatted endlessly with Vicki, the almost over friendly receptionist that made it her life mission to assure we had the best possible time, ate the best possible food, and sweetly joked about her tendency to eat too much. “There is no moderation in Santorini!” She’d said. M would have loved that.

The end of the last day, standing on the deck again, looking at the water glistening in the sun, I wanted to cry. It was an end to our trip. And though I knew there would be others, I couldn’t be sure that M would be there for the rest. So vivid in my heart, the way she had been in Santorini. Please, I thought, stay with me. Don’t fade away into a distant memory. As we stepped into the taxi that would take us to the airport I clung to her, like a child clinging to his mother’s shirt. But it was time to part, again. And I realized that I could probably continue parting with her forever. Saying goodbye again and again, just as it had been when she was still here.

Her birthday is coming up on Tuesday. Will I be saying goodbye once more? Maybe I shouldn’t. Maybe instead of saying goodbye, I should welcome her memory into my life, as a permanent tenant, that lives forever and never goes on vacation.

I should.

And I will.

But not just yet.

Letting Go of Disclaimer Girl

4 Apr

When BD and I were together, for ten years, unmarried and without children, people would delicately pose the question: So… Are you thinking about marriage? And I’d say, oh sure, but no need to rush. We don’t want to get married right now.  And later on, oh yes, we’re getting married but don’t get your hopes up for kids anytime soon. We’re not at all ready yet.

It was a lie. I was ready for marriage when we were together for four years, and were travelling through South America. I was 23. And I fantasized secretly about him popping the question on one of those magical deserted beaches in Brazil, with the little crabs popping out of their holes in the sand and running around sideways.

Once I even said something like one day we can come back here for our honeymoon. He could have shrugged it off, but instead he got really upset. What do you have to go ruin everything for? It was one of the only fights we ever had in our 13 year long relationship.

After that, I learned that some things were better left unsaid. That patience was a virtue. That like my mother, it was my duty to make sure that the man in my life was happy, because that was the secret of long lasting relationships. It was. BD and I could have probably continued on our merry road of quiet content, if it hadn’t been for my desire, that could no longer be suppressed to become a parent. I pushed him into marriage, and he rose to the occasion. And then I pushed him into having a child. We’d been together for 12 years. I was turning 31. I told him stories about biological clocks and how these things took time. And I got pregnant ridiculously fast. Like my body had all these eggs lining up throughout my life, waiting for anything that loosely resembled sperm to impregnate them. I’m pretty sure even porn could have knocked me up, my body was so ready for a baby. A week after the first time we had unprotected sex, my breasts were sore and I was nauseous as fuck.

I used to be Disclaimer Girl. The one who could never accept 100% fulfilment. Happiness came with a warning: “Don’t get your hopes up to high.” It came with a but. Without warnings, without buts people could get disappointed. How’s the new job? Oh you know, it’s great, but who knows how long I’ll be there. They’re not doing so well financially, they’re constantly laying people off. Oh that’s a lovely dress! What, this old thing? I’ve had it for years. I bought it on sale. It makes my butt look big doesn’t it? But yeah, I guess it works. It was a mediocreness of emotions. It restricted how high I could go, but it also protected me.

That changed when I first peed on that stick and saw those two little pink lines. I could not restrain my happiness. I couldn’t put a disclaimer on that. No buts when it came to my love for that tiny fertilized egg that would soon enough become my son. BD was not as thrilled. He was highly protective of me, as always, made sure I ate all the right things and didn’t do any heavy lifting. He did all the right things but he did them with a stiffness. He was freaking his shit out.

When I was three months pregnant he started talking about going abroad for work. He would be gone for three months, weeks 22-35. It was a great opportunity for him. It could mean more money and a secure future for us both, well, us three. I didn’t think twice. I wanted him to go. Because I believed with all my heart that he would return a changed man. He would be excited about becoming a father. He’d rise to the occasion.

How’s the pregnancy? Amazing. I’m sick as hell and alone. But I love it. I wasn’t lying. I hated the nausea and constant puke fest. But I was excited for a life that I was going to have, soon, if I was patient. Wow, you’re so wonderful to let your husband go abroad for so long when you’re pregnant. I didn’t think I was being wonderful. I didn’t think it was my right to tell him not to go. I didn’t want him to go. But that’s because I wanted him to not want to go. I wanted him to want to stay with me. But since he didn’t, what was the point of forcing him to stay?

Three months past and I got used to doing things on my own. Useful experience for later on. Then he was back, in body at least. He worked crazy hours. I barely saw him. He was there for the birth, and I have to give him credit, he was 100% present there. But shortly after the birth he went back to being a workaholic. Staying late at the office, leaving bath time and bedtime to me. Apologizing over the phone. Saying things like, I’m here with the gang, we had a long day and decided to get a beer. That’s OK right? I can leave if you want. Knowing that I would never tell him to leave his friends and come home. Because, even though I was responsible for a new person in my life, it was still my job to keep my husband happy. If he could find balance, if he was not too overwhelmed, if I could somehow make it so that this was not too hard for him, than he’d rise to the occasion. He’d be the father I knew he could be. He’d love me like he was supposed to.

It was around that time that he stopped wearing his wedding band. It was around that time that when I told him I loved him, he stopped saying it back. And quickly after, he was gone.

How’s motherhood? They asked. Amazing. I’d answer. I’m happier than I’ve ever been.

And that wasn’t a lie either. I was happy. I had always wanted to be a mother. So even though I was dead tired, even when my Boy was sick and I was taking care of him all by myself, I quickly learned that there was a difference between easy and good. My new life wasn’t easy, for sure. But it was meaningful. It was important. And that made it good.

So there were no more buts. Not when it came to my family of two. We were one complete unit and we could listen to Led Zeppelin and dance around the house and love one other to the moon and back without a single disclaimer. It was safe to give him my all.

It was harder to implement my no buts policy to other aspects of my life. Oh I like my job, sure, but I don’t really know where it’s going. I mean, I am signing that five year contract, but it doesn’t mean I’ll stay. I can always back out of it. I like this apartment. It’s easy for me to stay here. Sure, it used to be ours. There are some rough memories there, but it’s OK. Yes, I really Iike this guy, I might even love him, but it has no future. We don’t want the same things. It’s good for now. The sex is amazing. Anyway, I’m not going to be careless this time, I’m not going to get too attached. 

Objectively speaking, some utterly crappy stuff has happened to me when I’ve let down my guard. I allowed myself to believe BD and I would be together forever and raise our beautiful son together, and he left. I allowed myself to believe M was going to get better. She didn’t. It is very difficult for me to simply believe that things will be good. To be happy with no buts. To relish the moment without preparing myself for tomorrow’s disappointment.

BUT, and this is an important BUT. I’m trying to change that. I know that at the end of the day it is my choice. I can choose now, to put disclaimers before every aspect of my life and make sure that I never get hurt so badly again. It makes sense, for someone like me to do that. Or I can fall blindly in love with my life. I can love my new home, I can trust that preschool will be good for my Boy, I can decide to love my job and embrace its difficulties. And if I want to, I know that I can also love this man, whom I introduced as my boyfriend to my sisters and friends on Thursday, and felt my chest burst with excitement. I do love him, but there are still about 10,000 gigantic disclaimers there. His girls. My boy. They need to be protected. They can’t be let down twice. And there’s the other thing. That it’s easier to believe that love is never forever. It always ends at some point. And so, merging lives is, by definition a bad idea. Better to keep things simple.

Thursday night I threw a birthday party and he came. We got plastered and danced and he met my friends. It made me want, for a moment, to forget about buts and to just love him. And I have this picture now, that my sister took of us that I look at and think… What if? And that thought excites me and scares the crap out of me. But I think it’s healthy for me to allow myself to think it.

So I do.

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