Friday, March 30, 2007

Dead weight

It feels like the past week has been busy, but I know that's depression talking. I've been busy mostly sitting around, with some online job applications and childcare searching for flavor. Not the 35+ hours a week of "employment-related activities" I'm supposed to put in. I feel like I'm dragging a load of bricks on my back all day long. Everything just takes so much more effort. The only way I get any housework done is if I just sort of close my eyes and start picking stuff up off the floor- then I'm able to just sort of shuffle along with the momentum.

The good news: I found childcare. There's a single mom who lives ten minutes away who is licensed for daycare. Two kids of her own (3.5 yrs and 3 mos), and one other daycare child (6 mos). So when Allie is there during the summer, she'll have a total of seven. To put that in perspective, Kindercare has seven two-year-olds per teacher, and one teacher to fourteen preschoolers. And I feel extra good about the fact that bringing my kids there will allow her to be home with hers, and maybe even quit her weekend job. She has good back-up caregivers, too, so I don't have to worry about her getting sick. That's all happy stuff. Now I just have to wait for the county to authorize payment. Then I can start job hunting in earnest.

I don't like having to put them in daycare. Not because I don't think Erin or even a center like Kindercare can do an adequate job of taking care of the kids. Mostly, I'm just going to desperately miss them. I'm becoming somewhat jealous of their time already. But my other choice is to do in-home childcare myself, and I just don't think I'm suited to it. I've done it on a volunteer basis, and it's definitely very different from simply taking care of my own.

Allie's class for kids whose parents are getting divorced was over the weekend. I'll have to write more on that later. Jeff and I have a co-parenting class next Tuesday. Our date to go over paperwork had to be rescheduled for 4/12. We came in for the appointment on the 27th, but it turned out that I'd misheard, and our appointment was actually the 22nd. Oops.

I am so sick of paperwork and phone calls and appointments I could vomit. Answering the phone is probably the hardest thing for me to do. With very few exceptions, I just want to hide when it rings.

I feel like such a whiner. Things could be way, way worse.

Monday, March 26, 2007

The worst fifteen minutes of my week...

would be the time between when my kids are dismissed from their groups at church and when they are all safely buckled in their car seats. Getting them together, ready, and to the van is what might be called an adventure, if your idea of thrills involves simultaneously:

1. hollering at a four year old to, "please come back here, wait for mommy, please wait", while he runs blithely down the sidewalk, now and then stopping and turning around so he can flash you a huge isn't-this-a-great-game grin

2. (and) being hollered at, by a different four year old, "mommy please don't leave meeeeeeee," because she is falling behind as you attempt to catch up with the child from item #1

3. (while) carrying a very squirmy two year old who wants to get down desperately, so he can walk all by his big-boy self...usually right into the street

4. (and) trying desperately to keep the six year old from A) egging on child #1 by chasing him, B) distressing child #2 further by taunting her, or C) jerking child #3 around by the hood of his jacket when you put him down, or toppling him over in the same manner.

Personally, it isn't my idea of adventure at all. I like roller coasters and hiking. Road trips. I don't enjoy herding four wound-up kids down a sidewalk an hour before their bedtime, with a 35-minute drive to look forward to (you all have no idea how long and how loud Eva can scream). But it's worth it, more than worth it, because I am immeasurably blessed to be part of the Porch. They- you- are a second (far more supportive) family. So thank you.

And this week, I discovered that for the price of one cookie from Caribou ($1.50), I can actually get them to all head in the general direction of the car, at approximately the same speed. Bribery, yes, but entirely justified, I think. It's like buying sanity.

Monday, March 12, 2007

A beginning (and an end)

I served Jeff with divorce papers on Thursday. We're both proceeding pro se (without lawyers), so we're relying a lot on the kind and knowledgeable people who staff the Family Justice Center in Minneapolis. I got the new round of paperwork (another seventy-five pages, bringing the total number I've filled out to around one-twenty) and filled it out that night. So the Marital Termination Agreement (that we will both sign, since Jeff is not contesting anything) and the Judgment and Decree (an identical packet that the judge will sign, indicating s/he agrees with our agreement and formally dissolving our marriage) are finished and awaiting our appointment on the 24th at the FJC to make sure everything is filled out properly and ready to file. Then we each have a mandatory parenting class to help us navigate co-parenting post-divorce, and Allie has a mandatory class to help her learn coping skills and give her a chance to talk with other kids her age about how she is feeling and what she is experiencing. She is also still seeing her psychologist, which is a huge priority to me.

But although this might seem like a lot to someone who hasn't gone through the paperwork and learned the process, it really seems inadequate to me. I would estimate that between filling out all the paperwork and my two previous appointments at the FJC, I have spent less than 12 hours on the divorce. When all is said and done, including the parenting class and the hearing (required because we have children together), the total time spent for me might come to 18 hours. It really seems like it should be a lot more work to end a marriage of nine and a half years. It's saddening that it is so easy.


I tried out snowboarding on Saturday. I went to Welch Village with my dad, mom, Allie, and grandma. Allie's already a pretty accomplished skier, in her second year of lessons. My dad's really good, too. Mom and grandma were just along for the (very, very long) ride.

Anyway, I loved it. I had a lesson, then practiced on my own for another couple of hours. I'm ridiculously uncoordinated, especially when it comes to balance, so I can't say I'm at all good at it- I spent most of the morning on my butt. But it was a blast. It's too bad it seems the season is more or less over, because I'd love to go again.

But my goodness, two days later I am still very sore. I'm going to have to do a lot of biking this summer to build some leg strength and just overall improve my fitness level. I'm definitely better off after losing my fifty pounds of accumulated baby weight, but simply losing weight is a far cry from being in shape. Last time I was at my current weight (1999, yikes), I was definitely more fit.

Friday, March 09, 2007


Ever since I blogged last, my brain has been periodically screaming at me to take down my last post. It's too honest. Too messy. Too open to debate, or rejection. The screaming got louder today when I sort of accidentally found two web pages with lists of Porch bloggers, and that I'm listed on both. I don't want people to assume that I'm somehow representative of anything but my own life and experiences, that I'm more than one broken person struggling to make sense of life and God. But so far I have resisted the urge, and my intent is to continue to resist it.

I don't represent anyone but myself, obviously, and I would argue against anyone who said that my circumstances and choices were applicable elsewhere, either in general or in some other specific situation. But I am honestly struggling to come to terms with God as I've experienced Him, not as I'd like God to be. And I'm fighting to accept my life and my choices as they are, not as I wish they were. I need to break my addiction to seeming to have it all together. I need to be honest with others so that I can be honest with myself. Because left to my own devices, I'm perfectly content to have others believe things are fine and I'm doing great, even when things are falling apart. Left to my own devices, I prefer comfort to honesty and security to authenticity.

But when I hang up the whole cloth here, everyone can see the rips and holes, the seams and the jagged edges. It's excruciatingly uncomfortable. And in the end, I think that's a good thing, especially for an approval junkie and perfectionist. I need to realize that it is not a sin to be imperfect, and my pretending I have it all together only puts pressure on others to do that as well.

If this is the only place I can really grow toward being more open and honest about my life, then I'd be a fool to use it to preserve my illusions. I'd also rather not continue to be a cog in the machine that manufactures all the pretense we hand each other on a daily basis.

But oh, it hurts to expose myself this way.

Sunday, March 04, 2007

Eyes to See

I'm not dead yet. (For those of you that are anxious types, that's a Monty Python reference, not a threat.)

It's been quite a year (almost). I haven't had reliable internet in months and months, and things have been so crazy that blogging was the last thing on my mind. But I'm going to try to start again.

Tonight, listening to Jimmy at the gathering was such a hard thing. The reasons we don't see God in our lives...because we don't want to? Oh, yeah. That's my story. I know first-hand what that's like, and I'm starting to think that may be the biggest obstacle to following God for a lot of people. Even most people. So I'm going to tell a little story, and you may believe it. You may think I'm deranged (or worse). But I'll risk it.

I don't have to tell most people that the last five years or so have been very difficult ones for our family. We had twins who were eleven weeks premature, and hospitalized for 6 weeks. We went back to school, and had all the stress and financial burden that brings. We had Jonah, which we were neither planning on nor prepared for. We found out that Gabe fit the criteria for Autism Spectrum, and needed special education preschool. I was diagnosed with bipolar II disorder. And through it all, Jeff struggled with his own mental illness, hospitalization, and trying medication after medication with no lasting relief. We were a mess. But it got worse.

At some point, our marriage went from difficult to unstable to mutually destructive. I don't have a timeline for it; I don't know when things really got unhealthy for us. But we separated last May. Right around that time, God started calling me end our marriage. Out of compassion for both of us. Out of concern for our kids. I won't go into detail here, ever, but our relationship had become a really scary, ugly thing. And at some point, we both became so wounded that it was hard to muster anything at all for our kids. That was agony. But for me, the thought of giving up hurt worse. The thought that God was asking me to get a divorce made sense to me in light of what we had become, and what I believe God wants for us, but I didn't believe it. I outright refused to. Closed my eyes. Turned away.

So I spent most of last year vacillating. Not wanting to give up, but without the strength to go on. Hurting and being hurt. Saying, "Ok, God," then running away, angry and disbelieving. How could God? This isn't how God is supposed to operate. What happened to "'I hate divorce,' says the LORD God of Israel"? I felt incredibly betrayed, and it's a feeling I still struggle with, a year later.

Even knowing how hurtful our relationship was. Even knowing it was affecting our children. Even knowing that God's heart was breaking every day for us. The reasons didn't matter. I had decided how I wanted God to behave, and I was determined to hold God to it.

I prayed about it relentlessly and tearfully. I begged God not to let it happen, to find some other way. I begged God to make our family whole again. And amazingly, God said, "Ok, give it a try". The planets aligned. Obstacles melted away. We began living together again in November. Then God stopped speaking. All through our separation, I had frequent awareness of God's presence. Comfort. Guidance. More frequent and consistent than any other year of my life. And all that disappeared like a match dropped in a puddle. That worried me, but things were going alright, so I pushed it away. When things stopped being alright, God's absence became unbearable.

I spent a few hours telling my friend Michelle the whole story of our attempted reconciliation in January, after three months had passed, and our relationship had become destructive once again. Her response was, "Maybe God isn't speaking because He's already said it."


God let me try to force things to be fixed. He even blessed our efforts- the honeymoon phase was longer and more stable than I ever would have expected. Some good things even came out of those months. But we ended up back where we started.

And so, a month ago, we separated again, this time for good. God said, "Now do you understand? Now do you believe Me?" and internally, I kind of mutely nodded, round-eyed, like a chastened preschooler.

I was dying before, yes, but at least my life felt secure and predictable. Security and predictability are long-standing addictions for me. I think that if it weren't for my children, I would keep fighting to stay blind. But they deserve a mom who will do what she can to protect them, whether or not it makes her scared and sad. They deserve parents who are there for them, even if it costs them each other.

Having eyes to see is not the most comfortable thing in the world.