Once again, with feeling!

It’s been so long since I wrote a post, I’ve almost forgotten how. I barely even visit my site anymore. Hardly ever check my comments or update the site in any way. And if I have any loyal readers still waiting out there for the next words to flow out of my fingertips, well, God bless you for your patience but really, I don’t blame anyone who’s moved on to a better blog. You know, the kind that actually gives you something new to read once in a while.

I can blame all kinds of things for my absence from the blogosphere or my almost complete disappearance from the interwebs as a whole. The mundane and usual excuses, work and my schedule taking up too much time. Exhaustion. Laziness. Lack of inspiration. But I think my main reason for letting go of my passion for writing this past year has been the recurrence of a demon from my past, the great big monster that silently encroaches on your sanity and overtakes you before you even know it’s there. Depression. That enigma of a mental illness that still confounds those who’ve experienced it and those who haven’t, mental health professionals and us common folk alike.

Now before everyone starts in with but you have a job (read, money) and an amazing daughter and your health and friends and family supporting you and you can do so much, just suck it up and try…yeah, we know. We as in the millions and millions of people affected by depression, fighting each day to not give in to its overwhelming siren song of defeat, fighting also the feeling that we’re ungrateful for all that we DO have. I know how lucky I am. I thank God for all of the blessings in my life. That doesn’t mean doubt and negativity don’t have a place to rule my heart. Quite the opposite actually. That all of those wonderful things exist and I’m still not satisfied, that I still feel a measure of failure, that makes me angry at myself. And anger at yourself is a major trigger for those of us who will always be fighting the darker, heavier burden of depression.

So what do I feel I’ve failed at? I’ve failed at some very basic promises to myself. Promises like not allowing my voice to be silenced, by anyone. Promises like challenging myself instead of allowing myself to ever reach a plateau and just stop. Promises like knowing my own strength, accepting my weaknesses, and being kinder to myself than I am to others. It sounds very vague and even a bit silly. But here’s why this matters. Two and a half years ago I told myself it was time to look for a job and truly start over. And I did. And I was happy, proud of myself, enthusiastic. But the other part of that was a timeline in my head. Where I’d be 2 years later, and 10 years later, and all of the ways I’d improve the quality of my life, and by extension, my little girl’s life. And now it’s 2 years in August and somehow I find myself struggling to remember what the next step was supposed to be. I look around and feel like there are no opportunities, like working until I’m too tired to think is the status quo, and like there will never be anything else. That just isn’t true. But I feel it. And it sucks.

ReachSo I’ve chosen to shake myself out of it. To remind myself of the person I am. To keep reaching and hoping. Because the alternative is letting myself give up, give in, to lay down my single mom sword and wave a white flag and then slowly suffocate myself with it. I refuse that alternative. Remember, I’ve got that steel strength in me, that core that has gotten me through all kinds of tough times before. And I’ve got my writing. My release. My respite from the fight. I won’t let my doubts and disappointments drag me back into the endless spiral staircase of depression. I will find my way back up before it’s too late. For me. For Zahara. For all those people whose love and support has been with me for so long. For all the dreams I have yet to see realized. This isn’t an empty promise. It’s a rousing call to arms, a renewal of spirit. And I don’t know how many cliches I can throw in there. ūüôā But it is. It’s my stubborn unwillingness to let my life be just okay. I want more than okay. I want monumental, passionate, deep experiences that will be a legacy of happiness I can share with and ultimately leave for my daughter. I want my life back. And hell yeah I’m going to get it. Stick around and watch. It’s going to be worth it.

I promise.

 

 

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.

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.

Waxing philosophical or, what happens when I have time to think

“Let everything happen to you
Beauty and terror
Just keep going
No feeling is final‚ÄĚ‚Äē¬†Rainer Maria Rilke

Maybe it’s because¬†I just got out of a 10-year relationship, but I’m feeling awfully sympathetic to the movement of existentialism: the idea that we are all free agents, responsible for our own choices, and that the results of those choices and our personal experiences govern who we are.

I’m also determined that our unique choices shouldn’t be criticized, least of all by ourselves. (And aren’t we often the harshest judges of our lives?)

Obviously there are exceptions here. Violence, abuse, etc. Those aren’t the kinds of choices I’m talking about and I’m sure some reader hellbent on arguing with me will go in that direction.

No, what I’m talking about is the kind of individual choice that brings you to the very¬†clich√©¬†concept of the simple things in life. It’s clich√© because we all know that there are such things, different as they may be for each of us, that just touch us and fulfill us down to the very core of us.

And this comes to mind because I’ve spent so much of my life trying.

Trying is something we all do, all the time-

trying to succeed, trying to excel, trying to be something or someone more.

But what if we just stop trying?

I’m not talking about giving up or giving in, but just letting some things BE without pushing it or forcing it or expecting something to change. Trying is so good for so many reasons, but sometimes, some situations require that we just let go and stand still and silent and simply experience it, good, bad, all of the above.

Like the choice to be single, and then parenting and choosing to work.

I wanted to provide for my daughter. I wanted to be proud of myself. I made the choice, now I can let this just be whatever it is.

For me, it’s singing and music and dance and the sensation of freedom that comes with all that…even if it’s just how I pass the time as I clean up the counters after the last passenger has checked in.

It’s my daughter’s toddler-thick arms squeezing tight around my neck when I take her from my parents’ room after a late shift at work, and it’s the grateful smile on her face as she groggily confirms that mommy is indeed home and promptly falls back into a deep sleep.

It’s the way the sunlight suddenly bursts through the windows at JFK Terminal 1 right before sunset, filling every corner and my pores and my eyes and making me feel like bursting out myself to run through it, arms outstretched like a young, unburdened child.

It’s the heart flutter that comes with being assigned certain gates where I can watch¬†airplanes¬†taxi and rev up and cut into the air on takeoff, reminding me of my promise to myself to travel and explore, and the very near eventuality of that.

It’s laughter that stretches out my lungs and makes room for soul-cleansing, mood-lifting Oxygen, whether in response to the chaos and randomness of the airport or to the chaos and randomness of my friends and family and coworkers. ūüôā

It’s a peace that comes with making choices based on what I really want, what I really need, and being unashamed and unapologetic about it.

Maybe I’m not your version of Pakistani, or his version of Muslim, or her version of American, or someone else’s version of mother or daughter or sister or friend. But stop pigeonholing me into what you think I must be, because I AM my version of me, a combination of all of those things and more.

It isn’t always easy knowing what really matters to me, but if I’m honest with myself, it is easy to know what feels absolutely wrong, and what my instinct tells me is right.

I know that I care about people, deeply, quickly, and that I’d rather¬†do for others than ignore their needs. I know that I also tend to put that ahead of myself and I don’t want to do that anymore. I don’t.

So I allow myself to say so, to stand up for those things that do truly matter, for those moments that I used to stifle my own voice for the sake of someone else’s. No more.

And instead of trying to do that, I just do it. It’s easy, it’s neat, it feels right.

Maybe I’m just finally at that magical age when I’ve found comfort within myself.

Maybe existentialism is just the natural progression of thought that comes with truly growing up.

Or maybe I’m just happy, because even through the struggles and sacrifices and worries of a single working mom, I don’t feel helpless or powerless or afraid. I feel quiet and calm and strong inside, aware of the obstacles ahead and even a bit excited to see just what ends up happening, the beauty and the terror and everything in between.

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.