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So Much Love in My Life, and Still I Want More

27 Dec


A colorful plastic star hangs on his crib and plays soft, soothing music, while pale pastel images are projected on the ceiling of his bedroom. He observes the images, wide eyed, with glee, and slowly, mesmerized, releases his grasp of awareness and sinks into a deep sleep. I sit beside him, my hand on his back, concentrating on his breaths, and on the soft movement of his back, like ripples in water, rising and descending. So small, I think to myself. How can I love something so small, so much.

Five years later, here I am, organizing the closet in the guest room, and wondering who gets the musical plastic star. I change the batteries and clean the toy with a wet cloth. PLAY. The soft ringing music is suddenly too much. Without warning, tears well up in my eyes. I’ll be 38 soon. He’s going on six. We have our cute little ground floor apartment facing an orchard filled with grapefruit trees, and our goofy dog runs around the yard, chasing away the cats (and mice) and getting into fights with a hedgehog every now and again. We have D and his girls, who spend time with us every week. And still, at the end of the day, it’s still just the two of us. At least it often feels this way.

There’s D. My man, the one who’s loved me for over three years now, who’s allowed me to truly get to know him, without censorship, who’s broken through the fortress that used to be my heart, who’s seen me cry, and made me laugh, who’s strong arms hold me on the nights we’re together, and when he’s inside me I sometimes can’t believe my luck, that I get to have my legs wrapped around him and experience such pleasure.

I love his two girls, although I don’t see enough of them, because we’ve decided not to live together. Or he’s decided and I’ve gone with it. Or I had to go with it, because it was non-negotiable. I’m not sure. And every time my period comes, I’m a little disappointed, because we’re not trying for a baby – that too is non-negotiable – but still I hope to somehow, accidentally get knocked up and ruin everything.

It sure would make things easier if I had another child. To begin with, I’d be so busy, there would be no time to think about my life and debate whether I’m content or if something is missing. Some things would definitely be missing: sleep, and alone time, and sex. But I would probably be too busy to notice. I also wouldn’t notice how my boy is all grown up, going on play-dates instead of listening to me read, and suddenly acting as if getting a hug from his mom after school is embarrassing.

But there is no baby, and probably won’t be another baby. Or – there can be another baby, maybe, but then I need to find a father. And I don’t want another father. I just want D.

I was reading Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone to my son before bedtime tonight. “It does not do to dwell on dreams and forget to live, remember that.” Dumbledore told Harry, who was enchanted by the mirror of Erised.

I don’t want to forget to live. I don’t want to forget that even though he’s nearly six, he still crawls into bed with me on Saturday mornings. And that sometimes, when D is over with his girls, they crawl in too, and we all steal a few more minutes of sleep, all five of us together.

I don’t want to forget how even though we’ve been together for over three years, I still feel in love when I see him, and how he says things to me, like that I’m the second best thing that’s ever happened to him after his girls being born, and that he wants to love me for always and grow old with me by his side.

I don’t want to forget how lucky I am to be working in a place I find meaningful, to be affecting the lives of so many children every day, to truly like going to work in the morning and meeting my friends, who are my co-workers.

There is no baby. There may never be one. But I don’t want to stand there staring into my mirror of Erised and become addicted to the sight of a little bundle of happiness cradled in my arms, and forget that I can cradle my boy, or my man, or his girls, or my goofy, lovable dog.

He started reading now. My boy, not the dog. He’s outgrown all his clothes and shoes, and he no longer runs into my arms when I pick him up from kindergarten. But he does tell me about challenges and fears he’s overcome, and smiles at me with pride. He’s no longer obsessed with proving to me that he can do stuff on his own, and he’s not interested anymore in understanding how the world around him works. He now wants to understand abstract ideas, things that cannot be seen by means other than his own imagination. How did the universe begin, he asks. And what happens when you leave the atmosphere, and what is it like in space? And what will happen if I dig a very very very deep hole in the ground? I love how confident he is, not the way I was as a child, and so much more evolved than me – even as an adult. He knows his self worth, he loves himself. Looking at him I know I did a good job, and I know I could do it again.

I could.

But I won’t, I guess. And then when this saddens me.

And as I sit in the guest room, crying into a little plastic musical star, I think to myself that it’s unfair, that I have so much love in my life, and still – I want more.


Once a Fortress, Always a Fortress

3 May

Certainty and security are never a commodity in a single mother’s life. Love and fatigue are our main resources. We live for our ability to love our children and the people who love them (and us, if possible), we love them endlessly. We strive, thanks to daily schedules that bring us to the end of the day breathless, and with an empty mind and weary heart. It is easy to receive our kindness, for we are full of empathy and compassion for anyone who has endured hardship. It is even possible to win our love. We’re used to caring for others. But it is nearly impossible to love us, fully. And even more difficult to gain our trust.

This is why, the single mother, is forever single. This sounds tragic, and maybe it is in a sense. But I don’t necessarily mean for it to be. We aren’t alone. We are surrounded by friends, family, and lovers, who care for us, help us out, listen to us, pick our little ones up from school if we’re tied up, or make love to us quietly, in the dark, after bed time. We have each other – other moms like us, who share the impossible bond of lonely togetherness, that I think only we can truly comprehend. And still, we are single. Even with boyfriends, or live-in partners. Even if we marry again.

The single mother’s heart is a fortress. It’s been penetrated and broken before, and it shall never be broken again. We will never again allow heartbreak to take us by surprise. We are prepared for any scenario, and we anticipate the worst. (We know that He is going to leave us, and we leave Him first.)

So in order to love us, to stick by us, it takes more than romance, more than companionship, more than terrific sex, more than love, more than trust. It takes endurance. It takes stubbornness. It takes a man who can bear never being given the benefit of the doubt. It takes a man who can tolerate the constant measuring and sizing up, the fear, the doubts, the half-truths, the “I love you – but”s. It takes a man who loves our hearts, along with the brick walls that surround them, walls made strong by the powerful forces of abandonment and betrayal.

It takes a man who has the patience to take apart that wall, slowly, carefully, not tearing it down, but cautiously dismantling it, one brick at a time, knowing that there is a chance that it will grow back in, like like a lizard’s tail, but wanting enough to try, hoping enough to succeed.

I am lucky to have found such a man.

And though, from time to time, I make an honest attempt to push him away, he surprises me with his acceptance of me and my story, and his willingness to take part in it.




A Meaningful Narrative – The Challenges and Pleasures of Secular Parenting

3 Apr

My son is nearing four now, what an incredible age! When allowed to freely explore, ask questions, and wonder about life – this is an age of outstanding discoveries, of vital first impressions of the world, of discovering who is trustworthy, what is permitted, where one can go and where doors are shut.

I have two strong guidelines in my parenting, that have been guiding me from the day I brought my Boy back home from the hospital. Be authentic. Tell the truth. There is a lot more of course. I try to listen to him, I mean really listen, as much as I can. I try to set boundaries where they are necessary, I try to support his urges to be independent and guide him and be supportive, and not lose my patience and maintain composure, even if he throws a fit because his sunny-side-up is leaking and now he won’t eat it.

But I honestly believe, if I’m authentic, if Mom-Me, is not an entirely different person from Professional-Me, and Intellectual-Me, and Friend-Me, and Lover-Me, then I’m doing something right. So I tell my son about my day when I come back from school. He listens, and then he tells me about his day at preschool. I joke around with him, because I can be silly like that sometimes. I say I’m sorry when I make a mistake. And I tell him the truth, or a version of the truth that he can take in, when he asks me the big questions, when he wants to know how life begins and what happens when it ends.

Yes, he’s not even four yet. But my son has already asked if everyone dies, and if I’ll die one day. I couldn’t tell him some ridiculous story. A part of me wanted to go with the heaven-story. It’s a good one, really. It comforted me when I was younger. But I didn’t. I said we live forever in the hearts of those who love us. It’s a good narrative. It’s as close as I could get to where I really am vs the death thing. He accepted my narrative the way only four-year-olds can, absorbing it, inscribing it into his own narrative, into the truths that he will now grow up with.

Now he knows, because he asked and I answered, that the male and female bodies fit together perfectly, like two pieces of a puzzle, that the sperm and the egg yearn to unite and form a baby. That they have to wait for love, because only when a man and a woman love one another, can they unite to form life. He knows that I think it’s a miracle. And so he finds if miraculous as well. And it is, isn’t it? He is too young to feel confused about it. Too young to be weirded out. The narrative I chose to deliver has now become one more truth that he will measure future stories about sex, love and child bearing against.

“How does the baby come out?” He asked.

“A woman body is amazing,” I said with wonder. “It widens for the baby to come out from between her legs. They in narrows again.”

“Really? It can do that?”

“Yes,” I answered. “Isn’t it amazing?”




Timeline of Joys and Sorrows

21 Nov

September 2011: Preggers. Feels like I’ve been waiting for this all my life. Feels like he’s been dreading this all his life.

December 2011: He goes away for 3 months. Turns out I can do stuff on my own.

March 2012: He returns to find that I have evolved into a giantess, no longer vomiting every two seconds, and about 20+ kilos heavier.

June 2012: Beautiful, healthy son is born.

September 2012: We have the talk.

October 2012: He leaves. I grieve.

December 2012: I start to live again.

January 2013: I try to love again.

March 2013: M is sick. It’s going to be alright.

June 2013: Promotion!

June 2013: ONE!

July 2013: Besties in Berlin! It’s going to be alright.

July 2013: Trying and failing to get back together.

August 2013: Trying and failing to find a new home.

September 2013: Staying put. M is still sick. Love is gone. Everything sucks.

March 2014: Hope for a new start.

April 2014: A new home. A new start. Dating again.

June 2014: TWO!

June 2014: Coping. Empowered. Life is complicated, I can take it.

September 2014: I can’t take it.

October 2014: I have to take it.

November 2014: Low point. Depression. Unkind to myself.

November 2014: I tell M about a good first date with D. I try to keep it together.

December 2014: Limbo.

January 2015: Unspeakable pain.

February 2015: Unspeakable pain.

March 2015: I slowly begin to reclaim my life.

April 2015: I celebrate a birthday, dramatically, with my best friends, with my boyfriend.

May 2015: Girls gone wild memorial. Besties in Santorini, remembering M.

June 2015: THREE!

June 2015: Officially divorced at last.

July 2015: A trip to Barcelona with D.

July 2015: Adorably insane Charlie joins our family, chewing and biting and acting crazy 90% percent of the time, being the best dog in the world the other 10%.

September 2015: OK. We’ll keep you. Just please stop biting.

September 2015: Let’s introduce our kids.

October 2015: Playing family.

November 2015: Celebrating a year together. How lucky I am to have love in my life. Hope is renewed for a future of togetherness.

Fearing January.

Knowing I’ll make it through January.

A Nightly Chat

30 Sep

“I wanted to tell you something earlier, but I didn’t want to make you laugh while you were… you know. Safety first.”

I laugh. “Well?”

“This might sound weird, but I mean it.”

“OK, come on. Out with it.”

“Well, it’s just that you really put you heart into that blowjob.”

“What the fuck? D?”

“No, I’m not saying it to be funny. Well, maybe a little. But I mean, when you do that, it feels like you’re not just doing it, you’re really.. well… You put your heart into it. Sorry, I’ve no other words to describe it. And it’s amazing, in case that part wasn’t clear.”

“Well, thanks babe. I do put my heart into it.”

“I do too. You know, when you let me do that to you.”

“Yeah, I can tell.” I put my head on his chest. “You know that’s why we’re so good at this.”

“We’re amazing.”

“If only there were sexual Olympic games. We’d totally score high.”

“There are actually.”

“No there aren’t!”

“Yes, there are. You want to go?”

“What? How? Explain to me how that works.”

“Well, you have a bunch of girls, blowing a bunch of guys, and there’s a judge…”

“You’re such an idiot.”

“And the first one who comes – ”

“Now just wait a minute. No. That makes no sense. The first one who comes? That’s not necessarily the best one! You could totally have a quick mediocre orgasm.”

“Hmm… Well, maybe they attach electrodes to your head or something to measure your level of pleasure.”

“Now, that makes more sense.”

We lay there quietly.

“I like laying here in bed with you, talking nonsense.”

“Me too.”

“I like being with you, hanging out, just talking,”

“I like that too babe.”

“And I like fucking you.”

“What a coincidence. So do I.”

“You do, huh?” He smiles. “So which do you like more?”

“What do you mean?”

“Talking, or fucking?”

“Is that a real question?” He laughs. I roll my eyes. “I like the whole package, OK?”

“Well, it’s a pretty awesome package.” He holds me. Just go to I love you I think to myself.

“Hey, I love you.”

“I love you too.”

Every Day is a Different Kind of I Miss You

24 Jul

I haven’t written in a while. Not really sure why, I just wasn’t in the mood and decided not to force it until the moment returned when I felt that I wanted to write.

A lot has happened. I’ve finished the school year, with the end of the year show and goodbyes to my 6th graders, who will start Junior High in September. I received a shitload of validation, and a few gifts. I got time off – summer vacation. It got fucking hot and my AC began working overtime.

I went to Barcelona with D and spent 4 intensive days together. I learned a lot about us and where I wanted us to go. I confronted D about wanting to take our relationship to the next level: Meeting the kids. I listened as he explained why he wasn’t ready. I adopted a dog and learned what it is to truly love your pet. I had a huge fight with BD about custody stuff. I helped E pick out curtains for her new place to which she is moving with her husband and son, two hours drive away, after having been neighbors for the last 18 months.

Finally, this morning, I cleared out The Drawer. The one where all my old jewelry and makeup and knickknacks are. I found my wedding band, and engagement ring, and all those earrings M had bought me at various fairs she’d happened to stop by throughout the 15 years in which we were friends.

A lot of stuff happened – and she was gone the whole time. She was gone when I made her cinnamon pancakes and they came out perfect and my son ate four. She was gone when I bought “happy pills” for our friends in Barcelona. She was gone when I ate the most delicious octopus salad in the world last night.

Every time something happens to me, she still gone. She is always gone, and she will be gone forever. I can’t tell her about BD being an idiot. I miss her getting angry at him and cursing. I can’t introduce her to Charlie, our dog. She would have loved him. She would have given him a silly nickname. She would have mentioned him and asked about him every time we’d speak, completely acknowledging that he is a part of our family now.

I can’t consult with her about D and what I should do. I bet she would have thought I should break up with him, and I’d discredit her opinion, maybe even get offended and refrain from telling her stuff about him, until a couple of months later when I’d tell her how I felt and then we’d be OK.

No more dirty chai lattes in funny mugs. No more arguments or offences. No more compassion and patient, silent listening. No more funny faces to cheer me up when I’m down. I could cry now because it’s unfair she died, but I feel like I’m done with the WHY???? Now it’s just a quiet kind of sadness. A sort of constant regret. I regret that she’s gone. I wish I had been closer to her. I wish I’d made more time to be with her, especially after she became sick. I wish I could tell her how fucking horribly absent she is from my life.



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.