STATE OF OBSCURITY

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When things are unclear, muddled, and ambiguous.

When things we wish to be clear are instead blurry.

When focus is replaced by a haze of uncertainty.

When we find ourselves wondering about the next steps to take.

It is then we realise we are standing in the midst of the state of obscurity looking for a way to make things clear once again.

IMMINENT DANGER

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The evening sky was aglow in an orange pink colour with the aftermath of nature's wrath. The unfamiliar sounds of the tornado sirens blared throughout the day at the same time the NOAA weather radio made its warning sounds of the tornado's imminent danger. In the meantime, torrential rain poured down from the angry skies to be joined by the lightning and cracking thunder.

Across the ocean, on the Emerald Isle, my boyfriend watched in fear as Austin was being featured on Slovakian television. More than anything I wished he could have been here with me today of all days. He called me as soon as he heard what was going on in this city and I was glad to hear a comforting voice especially seeing how the children were not with me this weekend.

Alone, but not completely alone, I was afraid in a way I do not remember having been afraid in a long time. I gathered my documents, to include my passport, a photograph of the children, my camera, laptop, and one of my hard drives and took them to the laundry room downstairs. At that point, I cursed the laundry room for being so small as to not be able to close the door without having to shove the dryer against the wall. As a last resort, I considered crawling into the dryer for shelter.

Curiosity got the best of me as I kept peering outside into the living area at the large windows. Are my children safe, crossed the thought through my mind. Would the tornado make its way to my house, I wondered. If something happened to me, when would my children find out. I started to get angry at not having had a response to the text I sent my ex-husband asking how the children were doing. 'Inconsiderate' was one of the words which came to mind.

Hours passed by and I never heard anything from my children until close to two hours after an email I sent to their father and over five hours after my initial text message. At that point, it was almost 21,00h but I heard in the background the children still needed to eat dinner. If they were at my place, they would have already been in bed seeing how it was a school night. I figured saying anything about schedules would be pointless as their father never cared much for schedules and still does not.

All over Twitter, photographs made their way of the devastation which Austin and the surrounding cities endured today. It was unreal seeing places I knew and have driven past many times now under water. Cars were submerged and some even overturned. The storm was moving at a rapid pace and made its way to Houston to unleash its fury.

In times like these, we want our loved ones around. My loved ones happened to be elsewhere but at least I was comforted by sound and sight of my boyfriend on Skype as he worried along with me.

SENSELESS SUNDAY

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Sometimes nothing seems to make sense. The slow progress of a new life. Wondering when the time will come when things will make a turn for the better. Waiting seems to be part of the daily routine. Waiting for the postman to deliver the important papers. Waiting for messages to make their way across the ocean. Waiting for a time when technology will cease to play such an important role in our future together.

Though waiting is difficult, our desire to move forward is strong. We look forward to the day when we can end the day together. When we can prepare and share meals at the same table. When walking hand in hand is no longer a memory but a reality. But memories are all we now have.

Challenges are part of everyday life. Alone but together though far apart. It is something which makes little sense but has become a way of life for now. The future seems so distant but one day we will understand why some days had to be senseless, like today.

SLOW SATURDAY

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The minutes passed by at a sluggish pace. Though the weekend had arrived, I was awake at around the same time I would have awoken during the week. I would have preferred to sleep in longer, but somehow was not able to do so. 

There were many things I had planned on doing today. Not much was accomplished as is the case when we stare at a mountain of work and wonder where to start. I ventured out two hours after I awoke and made it as far as the grocery store where I purchased items for the following week though not much was needed.

When time slows down, our minds start to wander and wonder. What will happen after my last four days of work next week was one of my thoughts. Long-term employment is necessary in order for me to be able to save money for the future. A house is something I hope to be able to purchase next year, but without a job which pays more than slightly over minimum wage this is next to impossible.

This summer holds much change, more for my children than for me at this point with their father getting married and the new family moving in to my old home. I wish I could give my children more than I am able to at this time. I wish I could give them a stable home instead of our looking to move again shortly after Cinnamon's birthday in January.

Many thoughts went through my mind today as the rain continued to fall and the thunder and lightning put on a grand display throughout the late evening and into the night. As I looked around at the piles of boxes and unassembled furniture, I wondered when I would get that urge to simply get it all done.

Part of me wants to get things in place whilst the other part wonders why I should unpack when I will have to pack up again in a few short months. It is a conundrum of sorts. I long to have a place to call home where I can unpack my belongings and continue with living instead of merely surviving.

Today might have been slow but the year is almost half over. Progress is slow and at times it seems the movement forward towards a new future is out of reach. He is there. I am here. One day this will not be the case but for now we continue to wait as minutes trickle by.

MOMENT OF PANIC

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The sounds of the children running about the house have vanished as my children have gone to their other home. They will return to my place a week from today to resume their abnormal life which is filled with more upheaval than any child should have to bear at such an age, or any age for that matter.

As morning arrived today, after the illnesses of the night, all three children wished to go to school despite the ill feelings. Field Day meant fun and a time to spend outdoors playing games. However, Cinnamon's fever spiked to around 102F(39C) at which point I received a phone call from the school nurse.

Since the children's father was closer to school than I was, I had nurse Barbara call him to pick up his daughter. The day went on with no more phone calls about the other two getting sent home. When it came time to pick up the two children, I sat in line outside school and wondered when Saffron would arrive.

There was no Saffron, as a boy informed me he saw her board the bus to take her to her father's house. I wondered why she would do this. In the meantime, her father decided to go get a few things done and took the sick daughter with him. Therefore, he was not home to wait for his older daughter. I arrived at his place to notice the bus waiting at his bus stop.

For some reason, Saffron thought I told her to take the bus to her father's house. After a few minutes, her father showed up and all three children said goodbye to me until next week although I did not leave immediately. I had to wait for their father to look for my boxes which were buried somewhere in the mess of the garage.

The wait was long as I initially thought a pile of my stuff was being accumulated for me to simply grab and go. This was not the case and I was getting impatient, wanting to go home and start my three-day weekend. I am certain there will be more things of mine discovered during the garage cleaning this weekend. Seeing how my minivan could hold no more boxes, I decided it was time to go.

The children held on tightly as they said goodbye. I hugged them and kissed them, letting them know I would see them in a week. Seven days is long for a mother to wait, but even longer for a child. Such is the life of a family torn apart by divorce. Nothing is or will ever be the same again but new experiences might help alleviate this upheaval, even if in a small way.

NURSE SAFFRON

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Cinnamon and Sage ran to their beds the minute we arrived home after school. They both complained of feeling ill and tired whilst exhibiting a slight fever at the same time. Saffron felt well and took over the duties of taking care of Sage as I took care of Cinnamon.

At one point, Saffron came into the room and let me know she was going to read 'The Library Lion' to Sage. This was the book I got him for his birthday this past weekend and one we had planned on reading together. However, Saffron reading it to him was a kind gesture from her and one I am certain her brother appreciated.

She brought him water and talked with him as well. Prior to reading the book to him, she worked on fixing the puzzle ball which they had taken apart yesterday. When all was complete, she set it on the table in front of his bed and continued to watch over him.

When I returned to Sage's room some time later, Sage asked if he could marry me when he got older. This was the second time in the past few weeks he had asked this and I had to explain to him again this was not a possibility. His wish was to stay with me when he got older. Saffron then explained to him I would be much older when he was old enough to marry.

One wonders at which point the innocence of children gets replaced by the loss of that innocence. The experiences in life shape who we become and continue to define our character. Some people go through life with few bad occurrences crossing their paths whilst others experience what seems to be more than their fair share of pain and unhappiness.

Finding the strength to get through the bad to get to the good is one of life's many challenges we learn to overcome as years pass. Time brings on wisdom or at least it should. My children have gone through much turmoil in their short time in this world but my hope is at some point they find peace and rest in order to return to their innocence of childhood.

In times of hardship and illness, my children come together and support each other. Certainly Saffron, my little nurse, has proven this to be true as she took care of her brother when he needed it the most. Soon they will return to the normality of siblings and fight like cats and dogs, but for now I am enjoying the tranquil moments of the day.

A BIT LIKE JET LAG

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As I have observed thus far, it takes the children two days to acclimate to their ‘new’ surroundings. Two days to get used to being at my place for a week after having spent a week with their father, his girlfriend, the girlfriend's two sons, and the dogs and cats at her place - that is, when they go to New Braunfels instead of staying at their father's house.

This acclimation reminds me of the time it takes me to get over the jet lag when I am traveling to Europe and back. It takes me a good two days to be fully functioning. Two days of being drowsy and out of sorts. Thus, in a way, my children 'traveling' to my place feels a bit like jet lag does to me.

This afternoon the children were playing nicely together. Saffron was in Sage's room playing with his new Lego construction set and the Cars puzzle ball I got him whilst Cinnamon was in her and her sister's room drawing a picture for me. They were relatively calm which was a pleasant change from yesterday and were even singing the K-I-S-S-I-N-G song with lyrics I have never heard when I was growing up.

In shock and disbelief, I looked at the girls as they sung '...and that's not all, here comes the baby drinking alcohol'. They first sung these words this afternoon as they were getting out of the car after returning from school. Then they repeated the song during dinner. The girls informed me the entire school knows these words. I then wondered who in their right mind thought it was a good idea to bring the mention of alcohol to school-aged children.

After dinner, as the children were readying themselves for bed, I walked into Sage's room and noticed the puzzle ball pieces and Lego bricks strewn across the floor. I asked them to clean up, not expecting anything to be done unless I urged them several times. To my great surprise, the room was picked up in a span of five minutes as Saffron and Sage worked together to clean up the room.

Much of what I have seen after two days has to do with the children getting more rest by my insisting they crawl into their beds by 19,30h. Much sleep is what they need and is what I make sure they get plenty of when they stay with me. As another point of disbelief, Saffron asked if she could sleep with her brother in his room. She even said he could lay his head on her pillow.

When I checked on the oldest and the youngest later in the night, I noticed they were giving each other space and sleeping soundly. Having gone to bed relatively early, the children will be well rested come the morning. Then the whole cycle starts again on Friday when they return to the other place.

PAWNS SHUFFLED

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No doubt the shuffling around of the children from one place of residence to the other week after week gets to be exhausting and unnerving for all involved. The way it affects the children is of concern to me most as it cannot be easy to have no permanent home base. Regardless, they somehow get through it because they need to.

Today's challenge involved more exchanges of emails with the children's father. This time the subject was extracurricular activities. Last night, Saffron mentioned that her father's girlfriend will be signing her up for cheerleading this summer.

'What?!' I exclaimed. My next words were '...over my dead body' as that is exactly what would have to happen in order for them to participate in such a 'sport'. When one thinks of cheerleading, certain images come to mind as does a certain character of individuals. The Barbie type of girl is one image associated with cheerleaders and not the type of girls I wish my girls to model themselves after or be in the company of in any sense.

My beliefs of this activity along with anything to do with the pink aisles in stores to include Barbie dolls has been shared by the children's father the entire time I have known him. That is, until he met his real-life 'Barbie' last October. Now, seven months later, she is inserting her views and pushing her way into the lives of my children trying to undermine my authority as their mother.

There is no discussion with me as to the activities my children will be participating in after school or this summer. I end up finding out through a casual comment by one of the children when they come over to my place. As a parent, I have the right to know what goes on even during the weeks they are not with me. Alas, all of my concerns seem to fall on deaf ears as I keep voicing my concerns and insisting on my beliefs.

The emails continued throughout the day, each one implying I am the bad parent who does not allow my girls to participate in a sport. According to their father, whose morals have been compromised by this recent relationship, 'It is not a sport you do to show off. It is a sport you do for the art and athletics.' My reply was simply 'I said no. End of story.'

Almost an hour later, he sent another email where he showed me how he was using his children as pawns in his continued resentment towards me and my decision to leave the dysfunctional marriage. 'No worries, then they do not go during your weeks. You have to explain this to them.'

In no way should children be used as pawns in any divorce. My children told me tonight they did not like having to go back and forth every week. They wish they could stay with me and each of the three had their reasons. Then one of the children said their father sits down to meals with them only when his girlfriend is around. The other times he simply puts the food on the table and retreats upstairs in his office to continue working. No different than when we were married.

To the soon-to-be second wife who might be reading this... things might look 'perfect' now whilst you two are in the honeymoon stage of your relationship when everything is exciting and new. The reality will come one day when you are left alone at the table with all five children, my three and your two, and your new husband tells you he must work and thus cannot join you at the table. It might not happen the first year, but eventually it will because sadly money has a much stronger pull than family for him. I should know, as I have lived with this thinking for years.

SO BE IT

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Before you embark on a journey of revenge, dig two graves.
— Confucius

'Everything in this house is mine...' went one of the several emails from the children's father this afternoon. It started by him informing me that now, after ten years of living in that house, he is finally getting around to cleaning the garage and wants me to take whatever I left behind. He continued to let me know if I do not take what he thinks belongs to me by Saturday, then he will take it to the landfill or Goodwill.

'Will you miss it' asked Z. I thought about it for a second and decided I probably would not miss much since I had many boxes filled with papers and such from years before which I haven't looked through in years. So is the case when we start to accumulate things and hold on to every piece of paper which comes our way. But I am sure there are things I would miss.

With each email, things got progressively worse. I have been asking for half of the children's toys for months now but I hear from the children that they are not allowed to take anything from their father's house since the toys were purchased with his money. Today I asked again but was met with more harsh words. 'In addition of your own responsibility to provide for your children, you are getting...child support [half, I might add] from me. This money is for the children and not to support you.'

For over eight years I stayed home to take care of the children. Getting back out into the workforce at my age and having to deal with the inflexibility of companies when it comes to work/life balance is near impossible. So, not only are the children now referred to as your children but I have to find an employer which will pay enough for me to be able to provide for my three children.

Such exchanges of emails have become exhausting and unnecessary. I long for the day when my boyfriend and I can talk about things not having to do with the revenginess of my ex. 'If it brings you so much pleasure to take revenge on me for the sake of the children's happiness, then so be it' were my last words. No response from him. No surprise.

I know now that revenge brings only darkness...
— 'Amanda Clarke' (Revenge finale)

CAT AND DOG RAIN

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The rain persisted throughout most of the day and let up sometime in mid-afternoon. The loud and long beep from the NOAA weather radio prompted Sage to come to the kitchen where he asked if it was 'cat and dog rain'. I laughed as it was not a phrase I thought he knew. He told me he heard about the phrase from Saffron. I told him 'yes, it is cat and dog rain'.

We sat down to breakfast. A special Sunday breakfast after his birthday called for a slice of his birthday cake. The spiced carrot cake I made in a 5-inch baking pan so the slices were rather small but we saved the last piece for his sisters. They will have cake tomorrow night when all three return to my place the remainder of the week.

Sage wanted to go with me to the store to buy bottled water for the week. Afterwards, he wanted to go to his father's house to open more presents. I obliged and dropped him off in front of his father's house shortly before noon. I told him I will miss him but will be back tomorrow after work to pick up all three of them.

Before I dropped off Sage, I stopped to check for any mail since it had been over a week since I last looked. A warning letter from the utility district was amongst the pile of letters letting me know I was in violation of the rule of eight inches regulating the length of grass in the front yard. I walked over to the neighbor and asked if they had any recommendations as to a lawn service company. They suggested I ask the neighbors across the street but told me they would have no problem running the mower across the driveway to care of the overgrown grass.

Later in the afternoon when the rain stopped, I heard the sound of a lawnmower in my front yard. The man next door was kind enough to mow the lawn and tall weeds. He did not have to do this but chose to do a good deed for someone in need. With all of the difficult times I have experienced lately, it is encouraging to know there are still selfless and kind people in this world filled with malevolence.

EXPECTATIONS

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Sometimes, our expectations of how something should be turns out to be quite different from the 'perfect' version our minds show us. As we attempt to measure up to the version of perfection, we find ourselves feeling disappointed and are left wondering how we can do more, be better, and give more.

The scene in my head of how this day should have been was far different from the actual events of the day. There were no decorations, no balloons, and nothing other than cake and gifts which would distinguish this day from the rest.

We drove to city centre to enjoy the morning at The Hideout. My son seemed to like this time together at the coffeehouse but found our walking around town 'boring' as he found shopping for food for the next week.

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Some things cannot be done differently. The way things were done in the past has changed. At the moment, I have to use my weekends to get done what I could not during the work week and to catch up on sleep I have missed out on as well.

Despite expectations not having been met, I came to the realisation that I have done all I could in my powers today. Though I love my children, I know that some days will be less than perfect whilst others will be better. Life is ever-changing but love is the constant we rely on to keep us grounded and help us move forward with realistic expectations in mind.

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PEA SOUP JUMPY HOUSE

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'I want to look more handsome' Sage was telling me as we drove to my place. The discussion started when I explained to him our plan for the evening upon our return to my place. He was to first take a shower and then change into other clothes before dinner. Though I explained to him how he is already handsome, he insisted he wanted to look like the people in movies with nice clothes.

The nice pair of green plaid shorts with a grey long-sleeved shirt was good for him. My boy was happy and satisfied at his now looking handsome. After he was dressed, we sat on my bed as Sage recalled a dream he had about white squares in the sky which made sounds. As he tried making the sounds, I asked if they were perhaps the sounds of thunder. 'No', he replied, and then tried the sounds again.

Our conversation turned to food as Sage said he wished there was such thing as a pea soup jumpy house where you can stop to eat pea soup when you got tired. It was truly something which never crossed my mind, but somehow the thought had entered my boy's mind. He then asked if he could have pea soup for his birthday tomorrow as something healthy to eat.

The drive home today was an hour earlier than usual as I needed to stop by two grocery shops for food for tonight's dinner. Our simple dinner consisted of soft tacos made with refried black beans, cheddar cheese, sour cream, and avocado. Sage noticed the difference in beans as I had to buy another brand due to Whole Food's store brand cans being out of stock.

Salsa which I added to the beans to help with the difference in flavour turned out not to be a good decision as my son could tell something was different. Despite that, he finished his dinner and was delighted to have vanilla bean ice cream with chocolate sandwich cookies which looked like Oreo cookies but were an organic version.

At the end of dinner I explained to Sage there was much to clean up in the kitchen and throughout the house. He looked at me and said he did not wish for me to clean so that I could spend more time with him. I told him that is exactly what I planned to do as cleaning can wait but spending quality time with him could not.

Tomorrow is a day my son has been looking forward to for months as he counted down the days to his birthday. As a parent, you believe you need to make all sorts of preparations so as to not disappoint our children. We teach our children to expect extravagant birthday parties when all they really want is our undivided attention and a few special gifts. And of course the birthday cake. When we stop to listen, we learn how simple it is to make our children happy.

PROGRESSION

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This morning was my son's student-led conference where he showed me some work he has been doing over the past few months. As soon as he noticed me walk into his classroom, he tried hiding a smile. I doubt he knew I was coming to see him today. By the time I left, I could tell he was happy I was there.

He read to me a story he wrote about a cat in the forest that saw a monster. Though a short story, things did not end in a good way for the cat when he chose to open the door to his house after returning from the forest. As the last sentence of his story states: 'The cat let the monster in and the monster ate the cat.' I marveled at his thoughts and was transported to a time when I was not much older than him when I started to write my own stories.

When I was getting ready to leave, I asked my son's teacher whether Sage would get to advance to first grade next school year. She assured me he would and proceeded to tell me how the first thing he chooses to go to in the morning is the 'writing table' and how his handwriting, albeit filled with misspellings, is quite good.

Math is also a strong subject for Sage. His teacher explained to me what I noticed months ago when confronted with having to solve a math problem in alternate ways. He thinks outside the box and does not simply give any answer just to complete his homework. He wants to do a good job and takes pride in his work.

The progress he has made since the first few months of the school year has been significant. My son is now reading and writing but there is still the challenge of his somewhat incomprehensible speech. As his mother, I understand what he is saying but to others his words are not so clear.

In time, my son will overcome the challenge and gain clarity and control of his speech. Most important is his movement forward to success, towards the mastery of a skill he will one day possess. I am proud of how far he has come this year and enjoy watching all three of my children succeed in their young lives.

Next week is Cinnamon's conference and I look forward to seeing what she has accomplished this school year. Progression and growth are fascinating to observe at any age, but particularly at this stage in a child's life when their eyes are full of wonder and amazement. When curiosity abounds and everything seems possible.

FOR BETTER FOR WORSE

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Love knows no reason, no boundaries, no distance. It has a sole intention of bringing people together to a time called forever.
— Unknown

We promised to stay together for better or worse. Certainly last night was one of the ‘worse’ points in our life together thus far. Issues related to refocusing my future with regards to finding permanent employment make things difficult as I wonder when I will find something with more stability. Add to that the challenges of maintaining a relationship from across the ocean and we have a recipe for extreme hardship.

As difficult as things can get at times, we need to remember the ultimate goal of our promise to each other and to ourselves. The promise that this time we would do whatever it takes to make this relationship work. We all have pasts to look back upon from which we can learn and apply to our current situations. Distance has a way of making us believe we can simply give up when things get too difficult. We make excuses instead of taking time to come up with solutions.

Changing the way we think about something can make all the difference in the world. Our thoughts today turned from reasons of why we cannot make our meeting each other happen sooner rather than later to all of the reasons we should choose a less than perfect solution. No, we will not be able to get away for a week to some country B&B but we will have over a week of breakfasts, nights, and evening walks together which is far more than we have now.

We come to learn at some point we need to take what we can get and make the most of it. Life is not perfect and our trying to make a life fit into a perfect mold will cause us heartache and hardships in the future as we realise things are not as we would like them to be. We need to learn to cherish the moment and find happiness in the everyday little things we often take for granted.

For better or worse are words we utter during the wedding ceremony but often fail to uphold as years pass us by. We become indifferent, skeptical, and then start to take little things for granted until one day those words we spoke are but a distant memory. A strong and true love with a steady focus on a future together can endure the most difficult of times regardless of distance as love knows no boundaries.

HE SAID GOODBYE

The screen went blank. After four hours of us talking on Skype in what appeared to me a happy conversation, he said ‘goodbye’. In the last ten or so minutes of our conversation I told him we needed to think about our decision to either continue on this difficult journey or end this. If we ended this, I told him, it would be for good this time. No emails. No Viber. No Skype. No checking my blog. I meant this in a realistic manner. I told him I wanted to continue on this difficult journey with him but he did not want the same.

‘Ok, so goodbye’. Those words hit me hard as I did not expect them. Especially after he repeatedly proclaimed his love for me. ‘Love you too’ would be his last words on Viber. My heart stopped for a moment as this was the last thing I expected.

There were many times in the past where we gave up. Me more than him. But he never gave up until now. Another text came through a few moments ago…’Yes. That is what I want. It’s better for you.’ Really? How do you know what is better for me?!

My children were looking forward to meeting him soon. I have disappointed them once again. I have failed at love once again. Perhaps love is not in the cards for me. I cannot think at this moment. I never expected things to end this way.

Today I told him I was looking for tickets to come see him next month because waiting until October is too long a time. He said he would not have time off from work and not have enough money saved up for us to go somewhere. I simply wanted to be with him. Wherever that may be.

Numb is the feeling washing over me now. Why me? Why again? There will be no more ‘Good morning, my love.’ No more ‘Sweet dreams. I love you.’ No more planning for a future together.

Better for me? No. Better for you. I wish you all the best. Things could have been good. I don’t understand why. I never will. Never.

IN TIME

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In time, things will work out. Not as quickly as I would hope or like, but eventually.

In time, I will see my boyfriend again. Not in the summer as we had planned, but later in early autumn. The wait is not ideal but necessary for myriad of reasons.

In time, I will find the path in my career I should take. What that might be is unbeknownst to me at the moment.

In time, all will be revealed. The pieces of life's complex puzzle will fall into place. Serenity will emerge from amidst the chaos which is now.

In time is all I have for now. No answers. Nothing concrete. Simply waiting to see what life has in store for me next.

 

 

GOOD INTENTIONS

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Anna Jarvis' intentions were pure and good when she set out to put Mother's Day on the modern-day American calendar back in the early 1900s. Though she was not a mother herself, she wanted a day where mothers were honoured for everything they did for their children but did not anticipate the commercialism which ensued. As a result, she spent much time and her own funds trying to undo which she set out to accomplish.

These days we are inundated with store displays and advertisements urging us to spend money on this made-up holiday. Children are conditioned as soon as they enter school to do something special for their mothers on this one day of the year. We as mothers have also become conditioned to expect to receive something or to be taken out for breakfast, brunch, or some kind of meal. This, in turn, places much stress on both spouses and children to do something or give something for fear mothers become upset if their expectations are not met.

As soon as we have children, we are mothers and fathers every day of the year. Every day is a celebration of parenthood as difficult as this role may be. My three children seemed to stress about not having enough to give me. They wrapped drawings they made in school with Christmas wrapping paper affixed with tape and glue. Saffron was particularly proud of her ceramic creation she made in art class for me. I thanked them for their gifts but told them I did not need any gifts nor expect them. I told my children they were my gifts and we do not need a made-up holiday to stress over what society tells us we need to do.

Whilst some people might view my musings as harsh, we cannot deny the truth of these manmade holidays as Valentine's Day, Mother's Day, Father's Day, and many others. The holidays we should be celebrating are birthdays and anniversaries as those have deeper meanings for us and signify the birth of both a human and a relationship. Though I realise my children have good intentions as Anna Jarvis did, I never want them to feel as though they have to do something simply because society tells them they should.

My dear children...pick me a flower from the yard on a random day. Make me a drawing or scribble a few thoughts on a piece of paper whenever the urge strikes you. Give me a hug and tell me you love me any day of the week, but please do not feel the need to give in to this modern-day society filled with commercialism and greed, as I am your mother every day of the year.

NO DOORS

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'I'm sorry', said a lady as she watched me interact with my children near the flower section at the downtown Whole Foods.

'This brings back memories', she continued. She gave me a knowing look and assured me I would eventually get through these difficult times. Cinnamon was insisting on taking a huge orange to eat instead of something less messy and easier to handle whilst walking around. I kept telling her 'no' and convinced her to take a small Gala apple instead.

The store has a section near the front door where kids can have one piece of fruit each to eat whilst the parents busied themselves with the groceries. I had thought the children would have been full from having just finished two breakfast tacos each, but they were still hungry and decided on fruit. Sage opted for a banana whilst the girls each took a small apple which they ended up not finishing.

'Any advice on how to survive this' I asked the lady as I was ready to start my shopping.

'Wine' she replied. I told her wine was my next stop. I later saw her again by the bakery and pointed to the wine bottle on the bottom of the cart. All three children were sitting in the cart as it was easier for me to contain them in one area whilst focusing on the food I needed to buy. Pushing the cart around, I got plenty of glances from other parents who most likely knew how I felt.

After our morning of shopping, we returned home and did not venture out the rest of the day. Both Saffron and I were tired and ready for a nap. She kept closing her bedroom door to keep her sister out as Cinnamon did not wish to sleep but played with her brother instead. I knew I was not going to get the undisturbed rest I needed though I tried as best I could.

Many times throughout the day I kept hearing doors slamming shut. 'Mama, Saffi won't let me in' is something I have been hearing much of this past week. Today was no exception. I threatened to remove all of the doors from their bedrooms and bathroom if they did not stop slamming them. They did not seem to care.

At the old place, the children slept in an open area upstairs. They did not have bedrooms and thus no doors to slam. Then I recalled the time in college when our class went on a tour of our art teacher's unique multi-level house in San Pedro. Whilst walking through the house, I was intrigued by the absence of any interior doors. The only doors were the front door and the one leading to the roof where Jay McCafferty, our teacher, did his unique paper burning art, known as 'solar paintings'.

No doors throughout the interior of the house might be what I choose for my next home. In this home, I will simply remove them if the slamming of them continues when the children are here next time.

 

FRIDAY MOVIE NIGHT

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The deal this morning was if the children ate their breakfast by the time the kitchen's oven timer sounded, they would get one extra movie night in addition to the one they would normally get on Saturday night. Time was running away from us this morning and I needed to come up with an incentive for them to be ready on time. Any mention of getting to watch something anywhere and the children's eyes light up as they know this is a special treat for them.

Reading between the lines, most harried parents would see this as a treat for us as parents as well. It is code for extra time alone to cherish a quiet moment. In tonight's case, it turned out to be my being able to talk with my boyfriend for an hour, if not longer. It was something I looked forward to all day as being together in person is not an option any time soon.

This weekend the children would have been with their father, but are with me instead since it is Mother's Day weekend in the States and I am exercising my rights according to the terms of the divorce decree. It is a sad state of life when we as humans have to resort to a piece of paper (or 40 in our case) in order to do what is in the 'best interests of the children', a phrase most oft used by the courts.

The children are excited about the special day on Sunday. As such, they were busy this afternoon after school wrapping drawings and other presents they made in school. In truth, every day is mother's day as I told my son the other night as I tucked him in to bed. He then said he wished there was 'Children's Day' to which I responded there was, albeit it is not something I have heard of being celebrated here in the States.

Tonight's movie was 'The Adventures of Clutch Powers' - a Lego movie which Sage selected a few weekends ago whilst we were buying supplies at Target. Saffron's movie of choice is tomorrow night, assuming I can find it amongst the piles of boxes scattered about the chaotic house. In any case, the extra movie night tonight was a treat for both me and the children as we embark upon the weekend together.

 

 

SOUP AND ACQUAINTANCES

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The weekend is fast approaching and with it dreams of sleeping in are dancing in my mind. Catching up on sleep is of utmost importance as is taking time to cook and not relying on mere bread as subsistence. Tonight was a start with my making potato leek soup with carrots.

'It smells good', remarked the children as they came downstairs and walked into the kitchen. They were curious but when I told them what was cooking on the new stove, I heard 'gross' followed by them letting me know they will not be eating it for dinner.

The children's not wanting to eat the soup was not an issue as I knew very well they would not eat it. I craved something nutritious and took time to slice the large leek and chop the Yukon Gold potatoes and a carrot. To those vegetables I added two Turkish bay leaves, salt, and fresh thyme sprigs along with a liter of water.

Another pot of water was sitting next to my small pot of soup awaiting a rapid boil so I could cook the thin spaghetti for the children. Pasta with Greek feta is what they prefer. Saffron wanted freshly grated Parmesan instead of the feta whilst Sage wanted the spicy Urfa chilies to accompany his pasta with feta. A simple weeknight dinner albeit I wish their palates were a little less picky.

This afternoon I received a phone call from the employment agency informing me of my upcoming assignment. The company for whom I am working requested I stay until the end of the month. Albeit initially I agreed to two weeks, I decided to stay until the end of this month. Since I have no other prospects at the time and my children are still in school, I decided staying is not too bad of an idea for the time being.

As I finished the conversation with the lady from the agency, I let her know the people at the company were nice so I did not mind staying. Getting through tough times such as this new way of life lately has been difficult to say the least. My respite has been going to work and being in the company of new acquaintances who make those tough times easier to handle.

Laughter and stories are almost guaranteed on a daily basis and certainly make the drive to south Austin worth it. Somebody finally took a chance on me when I needed it the most. For this I am grateful as I am for new acquaintances who make life easier these days as they keep me entertained and my mind off of these difficult times. I still hold on to my dreams of seeing my boyfriend this summer for one never knows what can happen from one moment to the next.

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