Controversies and kindergarten

Some of you might have heard of some recent videos and news stories about Zahara’s biological father that are circulating online and in the Pakistani and Indian media.

Maybe you’re wondering if you should reach out to me or my family, out of sympathy or curiosity or a combination of the two.

Let me set the record straight.

The most important piece of news in my life and Zahara’s is that she has been registered for kindergarten this week M’A and will begin there in the fall.

The videos that I’m watching are of Zahara singing a song from “Frozen”, doing a magic trick, watching fireworks and dancing with me on the Disney cruise we took last week, and “what does the fox say” because that song makes us both giggle and dance around like crazy people.

I survived the blizzard and polar vortexing at work and a cancellation of a 500+ passenger plane and returned to work to find people had “heard stories” of my 15-hour shift and thought me a hero.

I don’t pretend my life is perfect or I’m perfect, but my daughter and I are perfectly content pursuing our dreams and living our own lives.

Any other news you’ve heard or will hear is inconsequential.

We are surrounded by our friends and family and most importantly the love and laughter and strength we provide each other.

If you’d like any other exciting updates on our lives, I’ve got tons of stories for you, regarding the kinds of things every normal 4-year-old and parent go through together…because despite the most recent controversy in her father’s life, Zahara and I are quite normal, silly, human people with all of the challenges and triumphs and dysfunctions of every family out there.

This is all I’m going to say on this subject. Thank you for respecting my stance on this matter.

Haves and have-nots: the art of appreciation

"In my darkest night,
when the moon was covered
and I roamed through wreckage,
a nimbus-clouded voice
directed me:
'Live in the layers,
not on the litter.'
Though I lack the art
to decipher it,
no doubt the next chapter
in my book of transformations
is already written.
I am not done with my changes."
- excerpt from "The Layers" by Stanley Kunitz

When I think about my life now it’s in terms of what is necessary.

I have to get up in the morning.

I have to go to work even if I’m ill or exhausted or if I need or want or feel I deserve a day off.

I have to eat. I have to sleep.

I have to pay bills and I have to fill out paperwork for preschool and I have to keep reminding my daughter that big girls run to the bathroom instead of leaking when they’re too busy having fun.

These and the many other things I have to do preoccupy my mind so much sometimes that I forget to appreciate what I can do… what I am doing.

I have the opportunity most people fantasize about: to change the course of my life when I’m still young enough to reap the rewards. And luckily, the things I’ve been through have taught me exactly what I don’t want my life to be.

Just a few years ago I was in the midst of a marriage that failed to give me the peace of mind and the stability a sound partnership is supposed to provide. Yes I was in love, but it was a love that yielded only feelings of yearning… yearning for a reliability and solace that would actually never come.

I never knew where our money was going or how long we’d be living somewhere before we had to move again or even what personality of husband I was going to get that day.

That was the most depressing part, not being able to predict or rely on my life-partner’s character in the tumultuous times. Feeling like his mood swings were all my fault anyway.

I began to look inside myself for the balance I sought from him, trying not to blame myself for the undercurrent of disappointment that permeated our life together.

Looking back, I know that I felt lonelier in that marriage than I ever have since as a single mom- and that speaks volumes about how flawed my relationship with my ex-husband truly was.

Now, even though I’m pretty much always tired and my schedule is, shall we say, hectic, I’m at last in charge of my own existence.

I work hard because I want to…

I have goals which mean more to me than being well rested. I know how much money I have and I know where every penny goes. I budget and I save and I splurge and it’s all in my hands.

I provide for my daughter. It’s a little bit I can do right now but I’m doing it.

And the nervous stomach, slight edge of panic that came with blindly depending on someone else to make the right financial choices? That’s gone.

My stomach is nice and settled, thank you.

ūüôā

I had a choice to make when I became a single mother: give up or keep going. And like I’ve said before, I kept going.

Although my parents would gladly work themselves into exhaustion to provide the life my daughter and I deserve, I chose to keep going until I finally got my foot in the door of a company I could grow in. And once in there, I continue to work overtime and late shifts and sign up for trainings and vie for promotions.

Because to me, doing something is better than sitting around waiting for something to happen FOR me or someone else to shoulder the responsibility for giving me the life I want.

I did feel stuck that first year of separation, but after filing for divorce I unstuck myself and took my first steps forward. I wanted to be more than someone’s ex-wife and now, years later, I’m a hardworking mom, fiercely protective of the dreams I’m on my way to achieving.

Dreams of financial independence and at least a mid-level management position by the time Zahara’s 5 or 6.

Dreams of owning and organizing and running my own home again.

Dreams of coming home in the evenings and enjoying the routine of homework and dinner and bedtime snuggles with Zahara sometime in the not so distant future.

These dreams may seem mundane or clich√© to some people, but to someone who’s been in a state of flux, trapped by another person’s selfishness and disillusioned by a one-sided love, these are the details that I treasure.

The fact that I can dream means that I’ve done so much more than survive.

I’ve moved past the pain of that marriage and divorce to a place of promise and perseverance. I’ve found out how strong I am and I’ve used that strength to earn a living and regain a sense of pride.

And when most days come and go thinking about only what I have to do, I step back and think about the moments that make all of it worth it.

Reading a great book.

Hearing a song that’s perfect from its lyrics to its music to the voice that gives it life.

Breathing in my daughter’s essence from that tiny warm place in the folds of her neck. Watching as her smile grows into a contagious belly-laugh, holding her in my arms, experiencing this world with her by my side to show me what to be awed by and how to feel joyous wonder in the simplest of things.

A 3-day weekend vacation upstate with my little girl... priceless

A 3-day weekend vacation upstate with my little girl… priceless

 

And then all the have-tos slip away for just a minute and I feel the peace I yearned for not so long ago.

I want to be here, on this journey with her. I am on my way to another type of existence but I’m already her mother, already my own and her greatest ally.

It’s remembering this, that I already am so much more than I thought I could be, that makes the long difficult hours not just necessary, but a blessing.

I’m grateful to have the chance to start over and to create the life I want to lead.

It’s hard being away from my daughter for so many hours a day, so many days and so many giggles missed. But I work this hard now so I can get to the part of our lives when we’ll both come home from our daily routines to our very own dinner table and share our day’s struggles and our future dreams with one another.

The fact that I know that moment is in the making, that I took the necessary risks and am making the necessary sacrifices to allow that moment to one day occur… that’s the feeling that drives me. That’s what turns my thoughts from a life of have-tos and losses to a lifetime of cans and want-tos and wills. Because the thing most necessary in life is the really living of it. And I intend to continue to do just that.

When it’s more than just a bad day: the Truth about Depression

I’m cycling lately. Not like exercise on a two-wheeled, manpowered vehicle, but emotional cycling. There’s something people don’t tell you about being strong in the face of struggles- it’s full of periods of great weakness, moments when you just want to fall into your bed, pull the covers tight, close your eyes and find some way to get rid of the exhaustion. And apparently my generation is prone to a new phenomenon dubbed the Quarter-life Crisis that hits somewhere around the late 20s and early 30s. Gee, thanks world. ¬†-_-

(See the following: The quarterlife crisis: young, insecure and depressed, The Quarter-life crisis, and How to Survive a Quarter-Life Crisis.)

It’s another taboo subject among Desis: depression and the big black hole that it truly is. Oh, everyone and his brother will say that they’re depressed or have high blood pressure or migraines, and it’s some kind of a fashionable thing in the Desi culture nowadays to faint out of some extreme emotional intensity. It’s like, oh my God, this is too much, I’m going to fall down unconscious all soap opera-style until I get my way.

But real depression, the drag you down, I can’t see any sign of hope, my whole body and brain and heart physically ache kind of depression? That’s not discussed with anyone. The maybe I should just give into this severe exhaustion because giving up is easier than trying harder suicidal thoughts? Never ever should a Desi mention that, not to friends, not to family, not to a therapist or a psychiatrist or anyone qualified to help you. That’s not socially acceptable or culturally comprehensible.

So if I say to you, yes, I’ve been depressed in the past and I’ve been close to the edge of it recently, I would once again be voicing something that Desis typically keep silent.

But it’s necessary. Speaking up, honestly saying I’m not okay, that’s the only true weapon against this almost supernatural monster of an illness. Because it IS an illness. It has symptoms and causes and a specific set of recommended approaches to recover from it. And like some illnesses, there’s no cure. The disease is always in you, able at any moment to take over and incapacitate you.

The trick is to expose the enemy, bring the hidden into the daylight and fight it head-on. Say to yourself and to the world around you that you can’t always be all smiles and confidence. That some days, some moments, some events are enough to have you withdrawing within yourself, tired, lonely, scared, and confused. That nights can become sleepless and the repetition of your daily existence becomes less a refuge from drama and more often the cause of it in your inner self.

For all my friends and family reading this who are about to start calling and texting and visiting to make sure I’m “okay”, please relax. Understand that my best form of defense against these feelings is to admit them and write it through. I know people like to tell me how strong I am…and I know when I look back on my life and what I’ve been through and how I got through it so far that I’m surprised, too by my own will to survive. I also know that I’ve done more than just survive. I’ve learned to be excited, to challenge myself, to enjoy and laugh and breathe deeply.

But like I said, depression is always in you. Our minds like to overthink and overreact and suddenly it feels as if nothing is how it should be. Like being divorced, working full time and being a single mom, and then trying to see where this path is going to end up. A certain amount of planning and intelligence is necessary to be successful, but for me, too much analysis of what might happen or what my life currently lacks leads to an emotional crash.

My therapy is sort of simple: first,¬†what¬†I’m doing right now and telling you. Second, retraining my brain to stop going over and over what I sacrificed or using the word NEVER for what may be in my future, and instead, repeating that I don’t need to have it all figured out. Third, going back to basics and remembering to make the small changes in my day so I can fulfill my¬†responsibility¬†to myself amid the things I do for everyone else as a grownup in this world. Fourth, and this is key if I want to truly stop cycling, I have to do something new to help me get and feel unstuck. I have some ideas on this and I’ll keep you updated on the results. But for right now let’s just leave it at this:

I’ve been depressed in the past and I’ve felt myself nearing that precipice lately. But I’m not going to just close my eyes and hope I can get around it. I’m going to walk a bit more carefully, pick out my path in the looming darkness, and find my way safely to the other side. And meanwhile, I’m going to continue to be the kind of girl who doesn’t care if it’s taboo to talk about it and who refuses to shy away from the topic. This is me, people. Wordy, honest, emotional, and real. That’s the side of myself I won’t ever change.

Happy birthday to me.

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31 years older.

31 years BOLDER.

31 years smarter and 31 years sexier.

31 years and I’m still just getting started…and that’s more than okay.

After this past decade that was as much about defeat as it was self-discovery, I’m proud to say I’ve begun again. Proud, but not delusional. This shiz takes its toll.

So yeah, people, I have a line a third of an inch below each eye that I spend a good chunk of my morning routine attempting to hide with cover-up and powder, only to have it fill with smudged eyeliner by about midway through my day, accentuating the puffy little pockets of fluid that gather there to say, yes I am tired, world.

And I am tired. I AM sad, and I am frustrated, and I am impatient… sometimes. Mostly though I’m smiling, because not only have I found strength in me to survive, but I’m so much stronger than I ever thought I was. Strong enough to have fun, to dream, to find ways to make those dreams come true, slowly and one by one.

I could have taken the whole my husband’s cheating on me thing and just cried or screamed or lay in bed all day every day until I either died or he changed (and we all know which would’ve happened first.) Instead, I held and nursed and stared at and laughed with and slept with and came back to life with my new baby.

I could’ve used my emergency surgery five days after I delivered that baby as an excuse. Blood clots pressing on nerves causing both excruciating referred pain and a diminishing ability to walk or change positions or even get off a sofa…that isn’t an excuse, believe me. But the almost impossibly even greater pain post-surgery, the physical AND the mental where I felt like my body had betrayed me and I’d failed as a mom less than a week into it… I definitely could have given up then. I could’ve literally and figuratively numbed my pain with the Percocet they gave me, floated through a dreamworld where my past and present never existed, forgotten even the new life God had entrusted to me.

I could have. But I didn’t.

I went through emotional hell, humiliated by my husband’s infidelity, humiliated by my body’s obvious need to shut parts of itself down to recover.

The catheter for a week straight…

The stool softener I needed to take every single day just to be able to release my bowels without bursting into tears…

The pictures and messages and news footage of the man I loved and lived with and some other woman, while I was trying not to believe I might actually die.

This wasn’t an easy time, obviously. But it wasn’t a time I’ll ever be ashamed of. I went through all that and I came out of it. I ran a 5K after all that pain for God’s sake! I divorced a man who never really deserved me. I couldn’t stay the course I’d been on previously so I found (and sometimes forged) a new one. I kept going.

There are moments when I hate that about myself, that I’m a person who somehow just keeps going. But I got this way through realizing that while the drama and the destruction made death seem like a viable option at times, it WASN’T. Not for me. I refused to go out like that. It wasn’t dying to get away from this life but a different kind of life that I wanted. And then there was that beautiful NEW life to think of…

So I kept going. And now I’m 31 and I have a job and it’s only enough to pay for my daughter’s preschool and Gymboree and the gas to get me to and from work and gets me standby travel the rare times I’m actually off, but that’s okay. It’s more than okay.¬†I’m making money and paying for her education MYSELF. That’s not even something I’d have imagined at 21.¬†It makes me tearfully, ferociously, heart-tuggingly proud because I kept going and I’m building my and my daughter’s dreams. Like going to Puerto Rico and showing my baby the place that made her so full of light and music and love in the first place! I finally did that!!

MOM heart necklace from my heartbeat

MOM heart necklace from my heartbeat

So yes, 31 is here and my life is hard and sagging drooping undereye bags are something I now have to contend with daily. But I’m okay. I’m moving forward. After the physical and emotional immobility of those first few months due both to my separation AND my surgery, I’d say moving is the biggest accomplishment there is.

Happy birthday to me. And many many more.

Wanderlust

So I’m a little scared.

I’ve been waiting to reclaim adventure in my life, to get back the freedom to travel that I once had.

One thing the pilot ex-husband made sure of when he began his elaborate deception was that I would no longer be able to access the travel benefits I was entitled to as his wife. He took my name off of the website where we would list ourselves on flights and he never added our daughter to that site even though I let myself believe he eventually would. Why would he break our child’s wings before she ever had a chance to fly, right?

Because that’s what it felt like to me, like my wings were broken and I would never experience that adventure again. I’d never pick a place and just go, pick a flight and just soar…

Maybe he thought I’d run back to him if he made it so I couldn’t fly, but instead, I waited until the day I could say I had gotten that right back on my own terms, for me and my daughter. The right to explore this world, to be the kind of person whose play was worth the work it took to get there. Play that made for amazing stories and memories and the feeling that my life was truly special. Play like let’s spend the weekend wherever we can reach and what’s a place you’ve always wanted to see and a hotel room is just for resting your body in between long days of new experiences.

And that day is here. And I’m a little scared.

It’s terrifying getting what you want. It’s overwhelming when what you’ve always waited for and asked for finally happens.

What ifs and such crowd my mind. Doubts, questions, even the simplest of decisions becoming a complex puzzle of choices and consequences.

Pay for a room that includes breakfast and a car rental and costs a thousand dollars more than paying for a basic room and a car separately…and hoping the morning meal won’t cost too much? Should I even question it? If I want adventure and spontaneity should I even worry about the price difference or go all out??

It’s a lot of pressure, being the mom, the one in charge of the vacations…the one in charge of the money to pay the bills as well.

My daughter deserves a perfect first vacation, and so do I. But is it perfect if I come home broke?

God, and the bigger question is can I really do this alone? The beach and the boats and the meals and the whole of a vacation with only a three-year-old to talk to and reason with and convince to please, pretty please, eat the fish and use a toilet and sleep at night and not run into the ocean when mommy wants to fall asleep to the sound of the waves and the heat on us like a heavy blanket?

It’s exhausting just thinking about it. It didn’t used to be this way.

But I didn’t used to be a mom. I didn’t expect to be a single mom at all, but I’ve done the best I can with that. And some days I rock this role I was thrown into and I know that.

So maybe I don’t have to plan as hard. Maybe I don’t need to think as much. Maybe I just enjoy the moment when my own hard work reveals healed and fully capable wings. Maybe I let those wings unfurl and I try them out before I overanalyze the results. Maybe the act of flying again will be enough to remind me how it’s done…besides, the answer to at least one of my questions is in my own rant. That a hotel room only needs to be good enough to rest in. See self? I can do this. I already know how.

And just like I have the strength and the knowledge within me, the word adventure has within it a guide to how to achieve it: venture.

I must venture out and only then can I live my adventurous, special life once again.

And this time, no one can take that freedom from me. I don’t have to depend on someone else for the passion of exploration. My daughter doesn’t have to be denied her birthright…my made in Puerto Rico, born in Boston, moved to New York little ball of adventure can continue to venture forth throughout her life because I am doing what it takes to give her that right now.

Scary’s got nothing on the satisfaction that comes with that.

So I’m a little scared. I’m also a lot proud of myself, and a whole lot excited for the literal WORLD that’s now open to me again.

Here we go, ready to fly…nothing so far has felt like this.

All the little pieces of the puzzle

I swore I’d never be the kind of mom who sobs every time her child has a “first”. First step, first word, first friend, first anything so far and I’ve been really good with it. Genuinely happy and proud with a smile so big and satisfaction so deep it feels as if my heart grows comfortably bigger and stronger with the size of my joy.

But today, as much as there is that joy and pride in me, my heart also feels as if it’s being pulled so wide that it actually hurts. Today, my daughter started preschool. And I am two seconds away from tears.

The only other person on this earth who has known Zahara as long as me and as intimately as me is nowhere to be found. He has nothing to do with this or any other first my daughter has had for the past three years. But he was a part of so many firsts before that:

The moment she was created to the first time we saw her on the ultrasound screen, a tiny speck that was too small to even confirm as a pregnancy because even though I KNEW already that this baby existed, the OB couldn’t be sure at only a few weeks into it.

The first time we heard her heartbeat and every time afterwards that we heard that strange cyclic whooshing noise that meant our child was strong. Our child was alive. This child’s heart was, thank God, pumping steadily as the previous child’s had not, and we waited nervously to hear it every month and breathed easier once we had.

The first time we saw her whole form, her head, her arms and legs, the length of her curved up little body on that black and white and grainy ultrasound tv. And the first time we saw her yawn and turn over and cross her legs, so real and close even though she wasn’t even born yet.

The first breath she took in this world, the first moment she awoke to this life, HE saw those firsts. He saw her before I did. He watched and experienced her first second of living with her and I, her second.

And now…

The heart is so strange. It can be pulled and twisted and grown and broken and repaired and reformed and always, always, that muscle is working harder and harder and keeping survival as its only goal.

My daughter’s heart must be a product of my own heart’s efforts. A piece of my heart became hers. That’s the only way I can explain this feeling, like I was being pulled into that preschool with her, a little scared, a lot excited, anxious, expectant, hopeful, confused.

It’s the only way I can explain how she and I continuously give each other strength and hope and love and our hearts keep growing and beating together. How she became stronger than me and I thank God every single day for it.

It’s also the only way I can explain how the only other person on this earth who knew her since her first firsts doesn’t feel what I feel. I’m not angry about it, though. I just feel sad for him, because he doesn’t have the relationship he could have had with her. He doesn’t know the beautiful pain, the horrible joy of moments like these.

Because that’s a piece of MY¬†heart in there, pumping madly for survival and joy and all her many many firsts to come, God willing.

That’s why it hurts like this. Because that’s a piece of my heart that has gone so far away today- being cared for and fed and watched and changed and hugged by someone other than me or my family for a whole day for the first time…stretching the muscle beating in me more than ever before.

Stretching, not tearing. Expanding to create even more of itself to give us both, my daughter and me, the courage and the capability to face every new first, every adventure, every loss, every moment together…with tears and toughness and tenderness and all that we can possibly need of each other.

So yeah, I want to sob, but it’s a good kind of sob. It’s a mom kind of sob. And I’m okay with that.

Yeah, I’m freeee, free-fallin’

I

am

divorced.

Officially, finally, unbelievably UNmarried!

If you’re thinking of what to say, I suggest CONGRATULATIONS and balloons and high-fives and happy dances.

ūüėÄ

I filed for divorce almost two years ago. I considered myself single. I got back in shape to feeling good about my reflection.

I laughed and I wrote and I moved forward.

I got a job. I made friends. I got my daughter and myself insured (another happy dance!)

I told myself having the paperwork signed, sealed, and delivered was just a formality.

That my heart was already unbound seemed to be enough…..

yet,

knowing I’m DONE with that whole miserable mistake is like the moment your body goes slightly airborne on a roller coaster and you know the bar across your lap is holding you in, keeping you from harm, and all you feel is your heart and your stomach rising up inside of you and the seat beneath you falling away and the air around you filling and expanding your lungs, to and beyond capacity…

or the way your body starts to spin and shimmy and the hips shake and the feet move and the heat builds and suddenly you’re being spun and spun and spun around a dance floor with the beat of Latin music pounding through you and nothing but music inside you and an arm holding you and catching you and releasing you and steadying spinning steadying…

yeah, it feels something like that.

Free-falling, weightless, breathless,

a little terrified,

a LOT electrified,

completely FREE.

I can’t even really explain how it feels. But just know this, World, it’s time for some major celebrations! So get on your party hats and dresses and clear out your calenders because there’s one more single sexy mama spinning through New York tonight.

And I am so ready to fly!

xoxox

God grant me the wisdom to know the difference

The Serenity Prayer

“When I need a healing I just look up to the ceiling
I see the sun coming down I know it’s all better now”
– lyrics to “I Cry” by Flo Rida

To start all over again with someone new, to learn all over again how to play the back and forth game of smile and tease and discover and delight…

to know who to trust…

AND TO BE GOOD AT IT…

it’s a scary thought.

How much does he need to know about the girl I was?

How much of that girl changed, and why-

Is that necessary to explain? To detail the many hard choices my heart made to protect itself?

Or does that leave me vulnerable and exposed to a new level of pain?

How simple it would be to just not try to be with anyone ever again.

To just close my eyes instead.

To dream of moments when I’m light and airy, free of the weight of heartbreak and solitude and self-starter, up and comingness and responsibility.

To just be a girl

laughing with a guy,

dancing through the night,

waking with a feeling of joy.

Dreams are easy to experience. Easy to enter into and exit from, unlike reality, where it’s always a bit messier.¬†

The mess- passion, misery, letting someone know you better than you know yourself.

Giving him the power to use that knowledge against you…trying to believe he won’t.

The thing is, I had already begun living the “rest of my life” with a man. Shown him my most hidden self, the silliest, the sexiest.

He didn’t deserve it.

And I don’t WANT¬†to start all over. It takes so much effort and time!

It takes so much…

everything.

I’d rather do that with myself. Learn about me, give myself the knowledge of the deepest parts of myself so I have the power to control my OWN¬†destiny.

Maybe I get lonely sometimes, but my heart is telling me I don’t want a relationship right now.

I don’t want another mess.

That’s not to say I’m forcing anything. There’s more than one way to be light and airy. I can enjoy myself, my time, my work and my daughter. ¬†And along the way, if someone makes my heart feel it’s worthwhile to let a little mess in, I won’t stand in the way.¬†

For now, THIS, knowing this and accepting it, is enough.

And when it’s enough, there’s no reason to yearn for more.

Funny how the heart learns to reason with the passage of time and the overcoming of injuries. But I guess that’s what growing up is…

Reason,

right or wrong,

romance,

respect for how it all FEELS.

Listening to the voice inside that lets you know when it’s time to let go…

Accepting that you’ll know if it’s ever time to try again.

The walking wounded

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I’m not the Woman you cheat on your girl with. After being on the receiving end of that heartbreak, I’ll never be the cause of someone else’s.

But a realization I’ve come to lately is that I’m no longer the girl who gets cheated on. I refuse to be so blind ever again.

When I look back on my life, I want these to be the defining moments. The days and years that proved myself to me.

Because the girl that lets a man break her with her eyes wide open, unwilling to see what’s happening to her? That girl ends up a wretched mess on the side of the road.

Begging for scraps of love.

Wrapping her tattered shreds of sanity around her and shooing away both the night,

and the memories.

But the woman who gives love a chance and, upon finding herself bewildered and betrayed, decides to stand up and see clearer anyway? That woman faces the reality head-on. She figures out what must be done and gets the 40 hour a week job.

That woman does whatever it takes, standing for hours on end, accepting any overtime they give her, learning and running and ignoring the lack of sleep.

She makes friends. She makes a plan. She builds a career.

She sacrifices her skin for blisters and rough patches and health insurance.

She even gives up watching her baby grow that one last half of an inch that finally means she’s tall enough to get on the toilet all by herself (a milestone mommy was losing her mind trying to have them reach together just months earlier.)

And through it all, the Woman refuses to change who she is.

A fallen love is no reason to stop believing in falling in love.

Being wrong about the man she chose doesn’t make it wrong for her to have chosen in the first place…no matter what the world might say.

The wounds eventually heal as much as they ever will. What’s left can only remind her of what was, even if once in a while a bit of salt finds its way in and begins the stinging and healing process all over again.

It comes and it goes. And she keeps going.

***

I loved and I was lied to and I can still be happy. I can still love again someday.

My wounds won’t transform me into the type of female who makes men pay for the hurt in my soul.

And my heart can’t be punished for its part in the injuries of my past.

These wounds can’t be allowed to isolate me from laughter and joy.

If they do, then everything this Woman has worked for during the past three years have been for nothing.

But I’m also not the one who flirts with every guy around, engaging in intrigues and trysts, naturally becoming the favorite subject of the gossipmongers and drama queens.

I’ve never been that one. Not because I care what people say about me, but because I’m happy as long as I’m doing what feels right to me.

I’m a nerd. I’m a nice girl. I’m not apologetic about it.

These blisters are nothing more than a sign of my commitment to the future I dreamt of when my little big girl was merely a warm and tiny loveball in my arms.

And part of that commitment was to do things right this time. To live my life the way I want to live it, without excuses or placations to the world around me.

To build myself up, from the ground up, doing whatever it takes to get to a place of stability, and who knows, maybe even some money to spare.

To not be the girl who gives everything up for the guy and then gets cheated on anyway.

To be the Woman who I was meant to be. The Woman my daughter already believes I am.

So while I won’t be dancing on any tables, I won’t be a wallflower on the dancefloor of my existence either. I’ll do what feels right and my soul will be whole- even with the wounds, even with the start all over again.

No waiting to join the party. Just me, who I am. Who I’ll always be.

Whistle while you work

I’m not a circus clown or a magician or any of a dozen happily ever after, fairy godmother aided princesses. I don’t have magical little friends who chip away underground while the sound of their whistling fills the mineshafts. I am, however, a single and newly¬†salaried mom. And that recent development has me yearning to fill the hills with my own music, while I search¬†doggedly and dazedly¬†for footholds and¬†haul myself up the craggy side of things.

It isn’t easy, but I never thought it would be. Working at a “real” job for the first time since before Zahara was born is incredibly empowering and undeniably exhausting. And there are sacrifices.

Like waving goodbye to two busloads of family members off to share in my baby sister’s joy at her wedding reception and finding the self-control to dry my tears, fix my hair, and face eight hours of customers followed by an eerily empty house.

Or prying my little girl’s hands off my uniform and rushing away from the sound of her unanswerable question, “Why you go to job, mommy?”

It’s almost a siren song, this question, beckoning me to give up and give in and quit. Making me wonder, always guilty, if I’m doing the right thing.

But it is the right thing. Because someone has to take responsibility for us. Not the man who disposed of us like used toilet paper and laughed at the suggestion that we even exist. A man who can deny his own child’s life and give her nothing of the fruits of his own has no place in our world.

The friends and family we¬†do have try to fill our lives with their own whistles, tweaking and tinkering with what little they can fix for us. It’s sweet and it’s been our little slice of stability, but nothing can make up for not having control over our lives other than my finally taking control of things MYSELF. And this is how it starts.

Forty hour weeks and rotating schedules. Aching feet and a semi-permanent twitch in my right eye.

But also…

Remembering that while I had to sacrifice sleep the last few weeks to do it, I did at least get to be there as,¬†God bless them,¬†my baby sister and her former fiance took each other’s hands as husband and wife. Thanking God for the new friends I’ve made at work who traded shifts with me and lunch with me and spent their breaks curling my hair and painting my face to be a sparkling, if sleepy, sister of the bride.

Remembering also that I was lucky enough to spend the first two years of my¬†baby’s¬†life with her as I nursed my heartwounds and found the road to recovery with her warm snuggling in my arms. Telling my babygirl that mommy goes to work so I can give her everything she wants, and quelling my desire to stop trying when she says it isn’t fair that I missed her first drop-off Gymboree class, or the busride she thought was magical and exciting, or the moments between bright early morning and bedtime that I’m not with her.

It isn’t fair, and she’s absolutely right about that. She did nothing to deserve her father’s deceit and she’s given me nothing but love and strength since. My mistake was to have loved an unlovable man, but in exchange, I was blessed with this child. And in being her mother, I found my own previously untapped and surprisingly expansive goldmine of resourcefulness, humor, and bounce back-iness.

When she’s older, I think my daughter will understand the unfair unfun unexpected sacrifices I make for her sake and for myself. We’ll find our way to the top and look out over a brand new exceptional view and we’ll whistle and whoop and celebrate to our hearts’ content.

Maybe I’m not a clown or a magician or a Disney princess, but I AM A MOM. And that makes me want to be the star of my child’s lifestory, the hero with a twitchy eye and multiple mutated superstretchy arms to catch and balance and dip and spin.

I am the juggler, a whirlwind of unyielding precision and tireless timing. Or really, the master of distraction, keeping the eye off the occasional small ball being dropped…the toys and clothes that don’t get picked up, the passenger with an expired passport that I somehow let through (and thank God THAT ball was caught by a colleague and tossed back to me before it became a much bigger misstep!)

All that matters is that the big things don’t fall, that I don’t fall. That my little girl learns what it means to be a woman in charge of her own piece of the world and how to balance on your tiptoes when you’re forced onto a precipice. The thing is, I didn’t ask for this or expect this or want THIS, but my life is at yet another crossroads and where I go now is my decision. My choice is to work my arms off, juggle the heck out of everything that means something to me, and find the pace that will keep things moving onwards and upwards. I WILL work harder and train harder and get the promotions. I WILL earn flight benefits for me and Zahara to travel the world and I WILL show her the world as soon as I can. Maybe it isn’t fair, but it’s a fantastic second chance to get things right, to have the life I always wanted and to give my daughter the life she was born to live.

I promise one thing and it’s the thing that keeps me going: this is going to be one unforgettable show.