Monday, December 5, 2016

Did I Just Become A "Cool" Mom?


Picture this.

Claire and I are under the covers. The door to the bedroom is shut and locked because that's how we sleep every night. I can't have it open, gaping into the unlit hallway. My imagination runs wild enough without a black hole to stare at throughout the dark hours. 

She's asking for her milk every two seconds because she's fighting sleep. My hair is freed from those black ponytail holders that never come undone without a fight. It smells a bit like vanilla inside the room. Both from the  body wash I used in the shower and the spray I used after I threw on one of my oldest Victoria's Secret tees and black pajama pants that I just pulled from the dryer. The last person to wear them was Brooke. I miss her.

We slept in late, like we have been for several days, because we can. Because my schedule allows it and I could honestly give zero shits who judges the fact that we wake up at 9:30 most days and lay there counting, singing out the ABC's and doing little dances until 10. 


I was hoping she would fall asleep though, so I could sneak out and wrap up some gifts. I'll have to put together some of her toys too and most nights I'll need to finish up posts and articles instead of hole up in my office with a load of tape and sparkly, Santa-covered paper. This was my chance though, a weekend night without a deadline in sight! 

It was nearing midnight though and little girl was still chatting away watching The Land Before Time - a movie that rounds out my childhood quite nicely but if I could slap Little Foot in the face I would. Okay, okay, I wouldn't slap Little Foot, that's a bit harsh, but I'd rather not watch it again for about ten years. 

My phone was buzzing every few minutes. Texts, snaps, Facebook messages - everyone was awake and asking questions, wanting to chat and be flirty. Was there a full moon I didn't know about? I'm going to be honest here though, there was only one "he" I actually cared about talking to. The others I was just humoring and the other one on my mind, well, he was busy with someone else. 

Finally I just gave in. I threw up a "fuck this" to the plan I had in my head and gave Claire a kiss on the cheek. I went into the kitchen and popped some popcorn, her favorite, grabbed a movie I snagged on Black Friday, Mike and Dave Need Wedding Dates, and went back into the bedroom. How harshly are you judging me now?

I have never eaten in bed before. I was worried about the crumbs. My obsessive behavior was creeping up my neck in a way that I immediately started regretting the decision. But when Claire sat up, wide-eyed still, and yelled for her "sack," which is "snack," I melted. Give the baby what she wants and let the mom relax a bit. 

I plugged my phone in to charge and laid it on the nightstand. I ignored every vibration from there on out, except for the occasional text to the bestie who was somewhere over the Pacific because I wanted her to walk off the plane to find some light-hearted and random messages from me.

About ten minutes into the movie Claire yelled, "Stop!" Her little hands were in the air, ever-so-dramatically and she was staring at me. I didn't understand but I pressed paused and asked, "What's wrong baby?"

Then she laid down. And told me to lay down. I cleaned up and obeyed my tiny, almost-two year old. Snuggled up with our noses touching, she grabbed her pacifier, shoved it in her mouth and took my face in her hands. She let out a little giggle and said, "Night Night Mommy," before rolling over and closing her eyes. She was asleep within minutes. That moment was worth the late night. It also made all questioning of my parenting skills go right out the window. 

Did I just become a "cool" mom? I think I did and these memories aren't just mine but they're hers too. I hope she looks back and remembers them fondly because I'm not forgetting a single bit. 

She fell asleep a few minutes before 9pm on Sunday night though. So, I'm not a terribly irresponsible mother. Instead, I'm just continuing to solidify the fact that we are the real-life Gilmore Girls, just switch out the Gilmore with Fleming and voila .. you've got us. In a few years we can swap out the popcorn for pizza and the milk for coffee and maybe we'll get our own show. 

I doubt myself a lot when it comes to being a single mom. I feel very guilty all the time that she's not getting the life that I had imagined or thought I had promised her. But then there are nights like this that I realize are ending up to be so much better than what I had planned. These real minutes together are so much better than ones that are forced or fake. She'll come out stronger from all of this too, I won't allow it to go any other way.
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Sunday, November 27, 2016

I Tried To Relax, I'm A Handful


It's 12:47AM and I am so tired that I'm completely awake. The television is off. This side of the house is filled with street lights creeping passed the sides of the dining room curtains and the kitchen clock is ticking away. It's all so surreal. It's all so loud.

Do you ever have an out of body experience where you start questioning your reality so much that you freak yourself out just a little? Or maybe just an "out of mind" experience? Am I alive or just a character in someone else's story?

When did I become two months away from being 28? Has it really been almost a year now? My name is Grace. Have you ever sat and said your name so many times out loud that it starts sounding like a word you've never heard before?

I have a daughter. I am someone's mother. I am someone's sole provider, caretaker and confidant. She's asleep in my bed right now. She's under the covers and when I go in there to lay down she'll curl up right next to me and stick those tiny fit under my back and she may even say "thank you," which comes out more like "dank you," under her breath.

I really hate that wrinkle right above my nose. That's the only true sign of my age. If not I could still pass as a carefree gal in my early twenties without a mark of real life on her. My hands show it a bit too.

Have you ever watched a video of yourself talking? Pay attention to the way your mouth moves as it forms the words. It's strange isn't it? That's you. And someone could see that, you talking or laughing or smirking, and they could fall in love with that.

My house is changing. It actually feels really good to sit here. It feels more like me rather than a part of the history. Which is so good, because it's progress. It's movement. Although I'm not used to staying put. I'm not used to non-movement. But sometimes through all the progress it's nice to enjoy the change.

They tell me that I can be a handful. Because of my way with words or all of the thoughts in my head that end up pouring out. There isn't a simplicity in my process other than the fact that I tell the truth. I'll never be simple. So maybe they're right. I can be a handful. And if you're not willing to use both hands, let's not talk.

You see, I tried to relax tonight. I tried to revel in my new sofa. The sofa that I so proudly put together myself after throwing the old piece of shit out the door into the front lawn with just these two lonely, old hands. But instead, to relax and truly clear my head, I did this. I wasn't settled until this mix of musings were typed right into my phone and sent to my e-mail and copied into my blog for you to read.

And some of you will be like, "Yep, totally been there with these thoughts." Others will be like, "She's insane." Then there will be a select few who will tell me, "Hey Grace, I got it," and I won't even be surprised when they tell me they did. I hope they tell me. It'll make me feel a little less psychotic and just plain weird instead.
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Tuesday, November 22, 2016

Don't Respond, Just Write


Don't respond, just write, Grace.

That's my new mantra.

Because I really don't even know how to respond to any of them anymore.

I'm more than a checkmark on the snap you decide to send out to a handful of girls seeking attention or validation. I'm more than entertainment for a boring night when you can't decide if you want out of your current situation or not. I'm more than someone to live vicariously through. And so are you. You're more than flirty texting and getting empty promises from someone who already knows that he or she doesn't want your kind of life. You're more than a novelty. You're more than a passing flavor.

Goodness, if there's one thing anyone knows about me, even if it's just a little bit, it's that I'm consistent. I keep my word. I won't break plans with you last minute. I respond to texts and calls. That's not because my time is free of, well, life. It's because I put value on your time. It's because I put value on you as a person. And I am so tired of not being shown the same amount of respect. I am even more tired of watching my friends deal with the tinkering of feelings and game playing.

Putting those non-actions aside, I've realized that I don't need to respond when I'm hyper-emotional about a current situation. Instead, I need to write about it. I need to breathe and come back to it later and sort through my thoughts and pinpoint the correct words that value both my own time and the other person's.

Because I really don't even know how to respond to any of them anymore.

"Hey girl," is something I received a couple weeks after a random, late-night meetup. I already said, "Hi," to you once, and you respond a couple weeks later. Why? Because you're bored. Pass.

Then there's the smooth one, who thinks he's getting something over on me with his out-of-the-blue texts and snaps. I was into it for a bit. But I'm bored now and I'm out of caring. I'm out of trying to get to know you. You can do your best to convince me otherwise. I pass here as well.

The one that I love is a hard one too. I don't know how to respond to you because I know everything I want to say or joke about but it's not the right thing to do. And all I want to do is respond to you. I don't want to pass, but I have no choice.

Maybe it's time for a clean slate. My best writing comes from when I'm in a super feely, sensitive space. But my rule is that I don't write until it's over. I've been tricked before. But this time I'm not getting sucked back into the game. I'm going to tell the story and hit the save button. Then I get to start anew for myself and all of those future books with Grace Lynne Fleming in bold print on the front cover.

Because I really don't even know how to respond to any of them anymore.
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Friday, November 18, 2016

I Do Regret One Thing

The feedback has been more than I could ask for. By what you all have been saying, friends, family and even strangers have reacted to my words. Some of my stories have made you giggle a little or blush just a bit. Other times you were slightly giddy that someone else knew how your awkward feelings felt. And then some of you told me that you cried. I know why those that know me cried. They were so close they saw the wreckage with their own two eyes. But the ones that I've never met, those tears mean that I did something right with the way I conveyed the emotions. I only hope to continue that and to never go about it disingenuously. 

Resonating in all of this brings me to my biggest regret in way of conveying emotions. It may be my only regret that I can pinpoint and get embarrassed about. In all of these months leading up to this moment; a moment where I feel good about who I am becoming and I feel strong in my singleness and I feel powerful in what I have to offer and I feel hopeful that one day this dream of an author's life will come to fruition, there's one moment of words that I fully regret. 

Let me take you back to that moment. 

***

We're back to February 5, 2016

Before he walked out the door without a glance back in our direction, he got into bed with me one more time. Thinking about sharing the blankets with him that night makes me nauseous and angry.

After the revelation that he wanted to leave. After the revelation that he drove home intoxicated. After the revelation that he had been looking up divorce behind my back for six months without so much as a peep of dissatisfaction. After the revelation that he'd been hiding alcohol and cigars in the car. After the revelation that he had been staying after work with college students instead of, at the very least, coming home to scoop up his baby girl in his arms, he told me, "We're fine." 

He coaxed me into the shower and gave me a hug before I got in. My tears were uncontrollable. I never thought that crying could physically hurt, but it can. It hurts even worse when those tears aren't wiped away but just looked at like a bother. He didn't even have the strength to finish a conversation or make a plan of action for our family that night. He was on the verge of passing out. I still have no idea what he drank before he came home. I know he kept screaming that he wanted more and I know how scared I was. 

But I listened to him. He told me we were going to be fine. I took a shower. I checked on Claire. And I climbed into bed next to him. I was uncomfortable though, especially when he came up behind me for another hug. He kissed me on the cheek and said, "Love you," like it was any other night of the week. He stayed next to me acting as though he was about to become the big spoon and I'd melt right into him. Instead I asked, "What are you doing?"

"What," he replied as though he was confused.

"You sure aren't acting like someone who wants a divorce," I snapped.

He could barely keep his eyes open. His breath still permeated the space between us with the stench of stale liquor. But we were going to be fine, because that's what he said. We'd wake up in the morning and we'd fix this. I was in denial.

The tears were still streaming down my face. I could barely catch my breath. My voice was catching too and every time I tried to speak all that I could muster up was a sad, guttural whine that I didn't recognize. He was snoring before I could calm myself down. Because that's what I realized that I always did. When I was upset or angry, whether at him or any other situation outside of our relationship, I comforted myself. I ended up making myself feel better.

And once I did calm down, I buried my head in my pillow. I thought maybe I could hide. I thought maybe this was just the worst nightmare I had ever experienced and I would wake up and be warmly welcomed with relief. I would be able to turn over in bed and tell him about all of those horrible feelings as I recalled the dream. But that never came true. My hardest trials were just beginning. 

Eventually I turned on my back, still trying to slow my breathing. I said out loud, "I would rather die than have you leave us." He never heard this. But I can still hear it loudly in my own ears. And it terrifies me. I regret saying it. I regret allowing him to make me feel that small. 

***

I don't want to have that type of weakness come over me ever again. I never want to regret my words. I also never want to regret my lack of words. I may say a lot. And that may annoy plenty but I'd rather let it all hang out, so to speak. I never want to be suppressed in my own thoughts ever again. I never want to be pushed to the point where I feel that hopeless. I never want to feel like I need to apologize for expecting to be heard. 

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Friday, November 11, 2016

We All Have That One

Mine has blue eyes. All of mine have blue eyes. They're trouble for me. I should steer clear from them. 

We all have that one person. That one person we still think about every once in a while. We wonder how they are. We wonder what if's and why not's and ask the question, "Should I have?" 

Even if you're married, you have that one person. Don't act holier than thou as you post all about your perfect relationship online. There's not a perfect marriage. Both of you find others attractive. Both of you have thoughts. But before you start arguing with me about it, who's your celebrity crush? Boom. You have a person then. You have a person other than your person. That's totally normal. 

My person makes my stomach hurt a bit still. He knew me better than the person I wore a ring for did. I think he always liked me a bit better too. Sometimes I even called him for advice over that same person who bought me those beautiful rings. 

Don't get me wrong though. That person I walked down the aisle to, as he gave me a big thumbs up with a silly smile, I loved him completely. I still have immense love for him. But I'd be lying if I said that I never thought about the one who came before him. 

I remember sitting in a girlfriend's car riding around those back roads with Nickelback on a loop telling her that there was no way I'd ever feel "this" way about someone else. That statement still holds true. Those feelings may have been suppressed and distanced over a lot of years but they can easily be rummaged up. Actually, they can be felt too easily. I have to be careful. 

Sometimes I can feel myself tiptoeing a transparent boundary that's been drawn between us. I have to stop myself from saying something particularly witty, yet inappropriate, or from asking a specific question. It's a bit tortuous. What's even worse is knowing that he too lingers on a thick black line. I won't cross it not even when I'm asked to. 

I have a lot of great men in my life. Some are best friends. Some I've known since my Barbie days. Some I could call and they'd be here to laugh or cut the grass for me. But this one, he's my that one. I keep things from him now because I'm scared he'll be mad. My jokes are different now because I'm scared he'll call me out on something big and it'll hurt. I'm different now and I get scared he won't like it. Not that it matters, it can never matter. 

We all have that one that we made an instant connection with and was never severed. Some of you may have been lucky enough to explore what a relationship with that person could be. Others went their separate ways and became romantic with other people and those other people were always jealous of that one. But the spark that caught fire never really fizzles out. Even after all the attempts at throwing water on it, there's an otherness about your person. It's special.

It's such a puzzle. It can be such a treacherous game. And what's even more heartbreaking is when the timing gets right for you, it's completely wrong for that one. Because when it was right for that one, you were blind and stupid and guarded and felt like there was never a chance. Then you realize the fate. You realize there's no fate. That person will only ever be that one you'll always have. 

We all have that one person that takes up a small space in the back of our minds, an even bigger space in our hearts and a larger portion of our memories. Explore that one when you get the chance. Jump right in and don't be afraid of rejection. Do it for me, would ya?

Yes, he's that one right here.

{for an extended version of this beauty and an even more in depth look at my "that one" make sure to buy my hypothetical book when it hits bookshelves}
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