Mom’s House, Dad’s House – When Back and Forth Doesn’t Work for Back to School

Today I have a post up at Huffington Post. You might want to check it out by clicking here.

But, put on your earmuffs if you don’t want to hear a lot of divorce bashing from the commenters. I am tempted to respond to all the ruckus, but honestly, I agree, a little. Divorce can hurt kids. It’s difficult, for everyone. Staying married in an unhealthy situation can hurt kids too. It’s difficult, for everyone. I used to think I would never get divorced, but here I am. And I am doing the best I can, as I think we all try to do with our kids, and our families. So, read the post if you want, and leave a comment if you are so inclined.

I am Butter Pecan. You are Chocolate Chip? Or, Still Surprising Me After Eight Years Married.

Eight years ago today we were married. I woke up next to you on our wedding morning and you surprised me. You excitedly asked me, “Do you know what today is?” I thought, “Of Course!” It’s the day we will marry. It’s the day when you and I will become husband and wife. It’s the day when we will officially become a family.” But,  you were thinking of something else. You told me that the KISS/Aerosmith concert tickets went on sale that morning. Yes, you surprised me. And you made me laugh.

You surprised me later that day, before we were getting ready to walk down the aisle. When one is marrying a man who already has two young girls, and the bride has a young son of her own, the wedding isn’t just for the bride and groom, it is for everyone. It was a ceremony so we could formalize this thing called “blending a family.”

The room where we all waited before ceremony started, was filled with commotion. My parents, your parents, the kids, the photographer, the bridal coordinator. When I thought my head would explode with all the excitement, you surprised me again. You told everyone that you wanted us to be alone. The room cleared,  and it was just you and me, and the kids. You took charge of the room and took control of the moment. And me, the micro-managing control freak that I am, was happy, relieved to have you in charge. And then, you gathered us together, and we held hands in a small, family circle. You led us in a prayer together and asked God to bless us, bless our marriage and bless our family. That could have been our wedding right there, in that moment– I felt it was that special.

During the ceremony you surprised me again. We did not write our own vows, so I did not expect it when, in the middle of our ceremony, you asked for some time to speak to our guests, the small group of friends and family who joined us that day. I didn’t know it was coming, but you told them our proposal story. You told them how you proposed to me that night in New York in a carriage in Central Park. And then you read to them, as you had read to me, the poem you wrote, inspired by St. Paul’s letter to the Corinthians. I didn’t know you would do that during our wedding ceremony, and so, predictably, I wept. Predictably, you had your handkerchief ready to wipe my tears.

Later, I think we both surprised the kids when we asked them to join us in front of the altar,  and we gave them silver medallions that were in the shape of family circled in an embrace. I think we surprised our kids when I made promises to Olivia and Erica to care for them and support them, and when you promised the same for Nico.

That day, was filled with surprises, and laughter and love. But it was only the beginning. Last night, when we took the kids out for ice cream, you asked me if I could guess your favorite ice cream. I am embarrassed to say that I could not, even though you knew what I flavor I would order, before I even ordered it. I guess I was surprised you knew that I was Butter Pecan, but I was even more surprised to learn that you were not Pistachio, nor Coconut Pineapple, but Chocolate Chip. I like that I am still learning things about you. It makes our life together a little unexpected, even if it only is ice cream.

I know you joked that you wanted to start your own blog to write about the things your wife doesn’t know about you, but I hope that blog won’t have too many posts, because I think I do know you–at least the important things about you. Like the way you care for our family, how much you love us, the strength of your character, your goodness. Beyond these things, I hope we will still find new things in each other. I think it will keep things interesting. I look forward to many more years of love, laughter and surprise.

Happy Anniversary.

 

You might also like, Happy Un-Anniversary to Me.

Happy Un-Anniversary to Me

Divorce and remarriage have been on my mind more often lately. Maybe it’s because all the royal wedding buzz last week reminded me another April wedding, mine. All the talk of the royal nuptials may have reminded me that the date of what would have been my 15-year wedding anniversary to Nico’s dad was approaching. I knew it was coming, but then forgot about it until the day actually passed. I didn’t think about it, until I did.

Maybe divorce and remarriage been on my mind too because Nico, my son, our son, just got back from a wonderful week-long vacation with his dad for spring break. His dad took him to Kauai, Hawaii. That was the last place his dad and I traveled to as a family. We went the summer before Nico turned 2, when he was still a “lap child” and we didn’t have to pay for his seat. The 5 hour flight seemed to go on forever, as Nico, then 21 months preferred my cushy thighs to his dad’s bony legs. Once we landed though, we had a great time on our vacation.

Who knew that four months later our world would come crashing down and we would separate and then divorce? I was devastated. I felt like part of me died. After the initial trauma and grief I realized that eventually I would heal . For Nico, though, I wasn’t sure how he would get through it. Granted, he was only two-years old so he really couldn’t understand any of it, but his routine was upset. Even though I knew that I had given the marriage all I could, and I knew that I couldn’t do it any longer, I thought that maybe Nico deserved for us to keep trying. Was I being too selfish? I kept thinking what it would mean for him? How terrible would be for me to miss out on half his life, as he divided his time with weekly stays between two houses? I thought about how it would feel for him to have the two people who loved him the most, never be together again. What about the lost opportunity for him to have a brother or a sister?

My concerns were real then, but now that his dad and I don’t let the pain and sadness of our former marriage influence (too much) the way we treat each other; now that Nico and his dad’s relationship is closer than ever; now that I am in a happy, fulfilling marriage; now that Nico has a step-dad, siblings and an even larger circle of people who love him, I realize that while divorce can be difficult and sad, it doesn’t have to be tragic. While it is definitely the end of a marriage, the end of a familiar family structure, my divorce meant the beginning of a new way of life for me and it allowed me to create a new way of considering “family.” Nico’s dad and I have settled into an amicable co-parenting relationship, my marriage to Juan is more intimate and loving than I could ever have envisioned, and it has given Nico a brother and two sisters. This was certainly not the way I intended my marriage to Nico’s dad would go when I made those vows on an April date 15 years ago–there was no happily ever after fairy-tale ending. But, the life I am living and the family I am creating now, is its own unique story.

Another wedding

green apple

The Apple of His Eye

 

There are many things I love about my husband Juan. He is funny, loving, kind, and generous.  We have been together for 10 years and have experienced quite a lot together. I feel like we know and understand each other as only soul mates can. Still, there are a couple of things about my husband that continue to surprise and amuse me. The first thing is Juan’s obsession with the rock band KISS. It’s quite shocking really, how much he knows about the band, how much he enjoys their music and what a big fan he is. Last year, Juan took the kids to see KISS in concert dressed up like this:

In fact, there is so much good material about Juan and KISS that it will make up a whole other blog post.

The second thing about Juan that still surprises me is his love of tech gadgets.  When I first met Juan, and I learned about his love of gadgets I found it charming. Like any person in new love, I thought the fact that he wore his cell phone and CD-sized MP-3 player on his belt loop was quirky but endearing. In the early days of our courtship Juan shunned the iPod. He is a true music lover and therefore thought the Nomad MP-3 player was the superior product. He would carry a large, round MP-3 player, which he wore like an extra appendage, on his belt loop around his waist.

When Apple released a new iPod with greater memory Juan succumbed to the sexy, slimmer, rectangular gadget in white, and dumped the Nomad. It was his new obsession. With each new iPod version Juan upgraded. Juan’s gadget loves became slimmer, smaller, more colorful. But at least they were smarter, because they had more memory. I consoled myself with each new purchase because he managed to sell or upgrade his old models with little expense. But of course his “hobby” of organizing and reorganizing his music playlists and purchasing music also managed to preoccupy him. His habit of walking around the house listening to his iPod with headphones on began to grate on me. It was especially irritating when I would be halfway through a discussion before I realized he was listening to KISS with his headphones on, and I was having a conversation with myself.  I complained that he couldn’t hear me or the kids,so he took to wearing his headphones throughout the house with only one side in his ear. Marriage involves compromise.

And then Apple launched the iPhone. Juan was hooked. He dumped that iPod like a bad habit. I saw the same pattern repeat itself with each new version of the iPhone. A younger, slimmer model launched and he was there with all the other Fanboys, waiting to purchase one. On the day the iPhone 3 launched he took the day off and waited at home for it to be delivered. I had the day off from work too and I sweated it out at Disneyland with Nico and Diego. In the middle of my day waiting in line for Thunder Mountain, I received this text message and picture of my husband gleefully welcoming his new gadget:

Oh Happy Day!

Now the iPhone is a part of our life.  We wake up in the morning to the iPhone as an alarm.  Juan rises and takes it with him to the kitchen while he gets his morning coffee. He returns and heads to the bathroom with the morning news blaring from his I Heart Radio App. He checks weather on it before he dresses for work, making sure to inform me of the day’s forecast. We have a No-Electronics–at-the-Table-Rule during meals, except for breakfast, when Juan eats his morning cereal while reading the iPhone’s bookmarked news blogs for the day’s headlines. Before Juan is out the door he has checked his traffic app and let’s me know what’s ahead on the freeways. The iPhone is with us all the time. So, Ieven though this video isn’t promoting the iPhone, I still found it so true it was only half-funny:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EHlN21ebeak&sns=em

Really? Yes.  Just like Juan and his iPhone. But guess what? Not long ago Apple launched a new technology. Granted it was much larger, and couldn’t possibly be worn around the waist. But it had had more memory and it was an even better multi-tasker than the iPhone. It is the IPad. Juan was hooked and as much as he tried to resist, he succumbed. Although to be fair, I was an enabler. We bought it as an anniversary/Father’s Day present. It is now a part of our lives. Really. The Ayyyye Pad.