May 26, 2008

No Reservations

I saw the movie No Reservations the other day. I enjoy romance and I do like good food, so the other day when I had piles and mounds of laundry to catch up on I rented it. It was so charming. There are not many movies I would say relate with step parenting, well this one did for me. I drew a lot of parallels with the main character, Kate. She lives her life like she runs the kitchen of a upscale restaurant in Manhattan with a no-nonsense intensity that both captivates and intimidates everyone around her. With breathtaking precision, she powers through each hectic shift, coordinating hundreds of meals, preparing delicate sauces, seasoning and simmering each dish to absolute perfection. Kate is a terrific chef at a Manhattan restaurant, sent to therapy by the restaurant owner because she is cold, unyielding, rule-bound, and a pain in the neck. Kate's world is flipped over when her sister dies and her ten-year-old niece, Zoe, comes to live with her. As Kate struggles to be a parent to a grief-stricken child, the one world she used to control is now turned up side down.

I could relate with many of these same emotions when I became a step mother to Alexis and Olivia. I felt a lot like Kate did, trying to juggle a new role with my set ways and trying to maintain the same standard of perfection. I would try so hard to make them feel welcome and a part of our new family. I expected it to be picturesque. Wow, my expectations where way off. I would warmly greet the girls at the door after being dropped off by their Mom so anxious to help them settle back in. They would be grief stricken in lieu of their mothers’ absence and would cry and sob for their mother as if dead, divorce can feel a lot like that for a child. I made meals the girls would turn their nose at. I ran three different schedules and even had a similar scene in the movie where Kate forgets Zoe at school, yes sad to admit that did happen once to Alexis, it took me a long time to get over that one. Zoe (the little girl in the movie) tells Kate “You don’t have to try so hard.” What a great message! I am a perfectionist and through the years have learned that living with a perfectionist mentality in a step parent role has potential to make you crazy. Though I am Chandler’s mother it was such a different role to fill for Alexis and Olivia. What was it they needed from me? They already have a mother. I have come to understand that children Chandler, Alexis and Olivia all needed love, acceptance, bonding, security in a ever changing and uncertain world. I have had to learn a lot about being flexible and have had to change my focus from stringent structure and strict routine to living more in the moment with my children. It has not been easy to change my perfectionist way of thinking, but the more I do, the more liberating my life becomes. I am learning it is just not possible to do it all! I strive to no longer be engaged by the element of being a perfectionist, it continues to be a process in my life.
I think long and hard about how I want my children to remember me and I make every effort to live each day with that thought in mind.
No reservations.

May 23, 2008

What Ever Happened To The F Dudes

The other day Melanie and Jessica came over. The day was damp and cold; to the point it chilled me to the bone. We let the kids run the house while we sat down and chatted for hours over few good cups of hot herbal tea. Three sisters talking and the chat got down right funny. One of the topics that came up was Jr. High, the 80’s era there was a group called “F”dudes and “F”chicks. So one may ask what in the world is a F dude of where the urban slang word came from? I don’t know but, basically it was a male or female who smoked in the bathroom and tough looking, they wore exceedingly tight pants, a lot of black, girls wore big hair and lots of make up and boys had mullets or long hair, oh and listened to Butt rock (is the any Heavy Metal music from the eighties that is so horrible that it is both hysterical and pretty rad at the same time). One good way to tell if a band is "Butt Rock" is if during their music video, the drummer blows a kiss to the screen while drumming. Motley Crue , Def Leppard, Poison, Guns and Roses are the best examples of butt rock. You really want to know about the greatness of butt rock? Download the song "Pour Some Sugar on Me" by Def Leppard. If you click on my title above What ever happened to F dudes, it will link you to a music video.
As we reminisced, I shared how much fun it was to go to a Def Leppard concert last year with Stephen. My sisters asked what kind of people were at the concert. “Every day people like you and me.” I got stuck in thought and began to wonder… what ever did happened to the F dudes? I finally came to the conclusion that they are the guys who drive a those extremely big trucks, display a 'no fear' sticker in their truck, and feels strongly about driving a Ford or a Chevy, still sport a mullet.

These pictures are not every day photos of me and my husband. Never judge a book by it's cover, we dressed up for a Halloween party hosted by Jason and Jessica in 2006. Stephen looks like a pretty convincing F dude, the guys in the office would never recognize him.

May 20, 2008

A Pearl Of An Oyster

The formation of a natural pearl is almost a miracle: a fragment of something that the oyster accidentally ingests gets embedded somehow on the inside of its shell, and the oyster surrounds that something with countless layers of mother of pearl to produce a rare and precious jewel.

Recently I have ingested a irritating something. I was faced with a predicament with my former husband. I was served a petition in February, stating my x was suing me for custody of our son. It came as a bit of a shock since most of our divorced relationship we have been very amicable toward each other. I felt I had always been accommodating (maybe too much) in order to keep from fighting over our child. This was a painful matter in my childhood, when my parents went through a 4yr custody battle all in the name of love. I swore to keep this a pain never to put my own child through.

Back in the fall in 2006 I had Chandler go and stay with his Dad during the school week since I was going to be working a full time job that required nights. I had several other options for Chandler's care, but taking into consideration how I would rather him be with one of his parents than some other care the decision seemed easy. I felt I had made the right decision and little did I ever think it would turn on me the way it has. It's a very long story and the build up has been evolving over two years now. For most of my years of a mother, I have been in the home and very involved with our children. Only a mother can truly understand the involvement and surreal love that encompasses our children. I believe strongly that you don't take children from their mothers. It is instinct to become a bear of a woman when any thing gets between a mother and her child.

Given this situation and knowing the position I stood, I was confident that I had nothing to prove to any one as far as who I am as a mother. I hired a lawyer and a month later we went to court. That day I saw Scott with his lawyer,in the court room excruciating emotion erupted from my soul and for a brief moment I felt what it was to hate. Every thing that had been buried from our past all hurts I felt I had put behind, had now resurfaced and forgiveness was far from what I could open my heart to. The ruling of the commissioner was harsh and far from my expectation. I was given 6 nights a month for my parent time and ordered to pay Scott child support. I could barley stand and struggled to keep my composure together, I felt my heart and guts had been ripped from me, my confidence as a mother was shaken and my soul felt stomped upon. Out of anger I questioned God, where was he? I did not want to fight, fighting felt so wrong in all this. Fighting is never best for anyone. Stephen and my attorney talked some sense into me and we made the decision to appeal the case. I suppose there is a difference in fighting over something and fighting for something. May 16, Things ended without going to court. The week before our hearing Scott and I agreed to do mediation. All went well, was basically a 50-50 split. I felt good walking away that day, knowing we did our best to come to a resolution. Neither of us got what we wanted, but we could walk feeling content and dissolved any bitter feelings. Life is to great a gift to live in bitterness.

The growth through all this has been forming and creating a beautiful pearl, with out this speck of discomfort and all the emotional mayhem there would be no jewel. A true test of character. I let the bitterness go and tried to find peace within, still managed to find away to try and love the opposing side. I felt at times I was at war, but was I at war with Scott or was I at war with myself? There is a way to find peace midst a storm. A hint of glimmer in things that appear ugly. Choice, it is our destiny to choose what our world becomes. Look for good and that's what you will find.
I adore my husband Stephen, my hero and true best friend. Part of the beauty of cultivating this pearl was realizing what is most precious to me. My relationship with my husband, my children and all my family, Robert's and Preston's. Most important, my relationship with God. All my relationships grew more deep, sincere and meaningful. The realization that not for one moment did I ever stand alone or will I ever stand alone. I hope by the end of my life I will have cultivated enough pearls to have a whole necklace.

May 13, 2008

Mothers Day and "Namaste"

How beautiful and divine is the call of motherhood. A role I treasure above any material item, more precious than gold. All the money in the world could never purchase the emotions, joy, strengths and love I feel and gain from being a mother.
Though it is not all bliss there are days Patience grows thin and my nerves feel shot, but those moments are so minimal compared to the whole. I can only have gratitude to my maker, who gives me the very breath I take and the experience of joy, pain, love, peace. How incredible these feelings are. This year I have been building upon huge life lessons. I have learned compassion, forgiveness, charity, humility, atonement, unconditional love and who I can be. Being a beautiful person comes so much from within, how we choose to deal with situations and how we choose to treat others marks us.

I am a believer of teaching through example. I have motto driven the Golden Rule constantly with my children, because it is something I really believe in.
Most situations we are not given control over how other people choose to act or treat us, only thing I can do is to master the person I am.

Since my divorce I took a vow to be at peace with my former spouse, remembering he is my son's father and hero. I took the same approach with Stephen's former spouse too, Emily. I think of the future and realized we all had a lot of events and involvement ahead of us and how much better for every the sake of every one if we do our part to make it a positive matter. Over the last four years I have really grown to love and respect each role of each parent, whether it be step or not. I have learned a lot from Emily, her compassionate heart and teaching me to go with the flow. Allowing me to participate in girls lives in such a active way, with no hesitation. Emily and I go to lunch with the kids, sporting events together, games,and other activities. Some people think we are "weird" and strange. I call it peace, love and maturity. How much more will my children learn from us getting along and treating one another as friends than to snub, display jealousy or be petty about issues? I love my children so much, I don't want them to have to suffer emotional pain caused by divorce. I have the power to make their experince smoother by treating their other parents with acceptance, respect and charity. My belief is that this creates more emotional stability. Emily and I have a inside joke, that between the two of us we make the perfect Mom! I think that is pretty insightful, we both have gifts and qualities unique to give.

My newest passion has been Yoga it is so rejuvenating, it truly brings together, mind, body and spirit. At the end of each session we leave by saying the word "Namaste."

I honor the place in you
in which the entire Universe dwells,

I honor the place in you
which is of Love, of Truth, of Light and of Peace,

When you are in that place in you,
and I am in that place in me,
we are One.

Namaste! A simple Hindu word, yet so powerful. Let me be one with my husband, children and other loved ones. Good food for thought on Mothers day.

God bless all the beautiful mothers of the world. A tribute to my sister in law Kari, who is a new mother as of May 8. I really love this picture, it captures the emotion of a mother's love felt as she welcomes her precious new little one, Kadence Elizabeth Preston. What a flood of emotion.

May 10, 2008

Jedi Training

Star Wars, A very fun party theme! When our family was at Disneyland, there was a show that did Jedi training and Chandler so ambitiously raised his hand from the front row to be selected as one that would train to become a Jedi.Unfortunately he did not get picked and was convinced if we showed up to the next show and he was wearing a Star Wars T-shirt he would get picked. The young children where shown some Jedi moves and prepared to use the force to battle Darth Vader. In the show each child was given a Jedi robe and a light saber to conquer the battle with the dark side force. Saturday was Chandler's party and Stephen woke up with great exuberance to put the last minute touches of the party together. We had stayed up until 10:30pm the night before decorating and putting together gift bags. Stephen had purchased light sabers for each party guest and bought material to sew each child a Jedi robe. The robes where a last minute add on and a very great idea, but I about died when Stephen woke up early Saturday morning, left to go to the store and came back with yards and yards of material to sew Jedi robes. I put on a smile and wondered how on earth we would get 12 of them done, but pressed on with glee. Stephen cut the pattern and pinned. I sewed and within 2 hours we had 12 Jedi robes completed and 2 hours to spare before the party. I realized with team work the load sure lightens. What a great husband! The children arrived and put on their Jedi garb, they picked a light saber and began to duel with one another. They watched "Return of the Jedi" to add to their skills and where told to pay close attention to the training video, for after they would go to field training. After the movie I played the Star Wars theme song and when the music got to the heavy, dark part of the theme song, Stephen came down the stairs dressed as Darth Vader. The kids got so excited. The training began. The kids had to hit a force ball that was automatically pitched to them and hit it with their light saber, dodged flinging marshmallows, carefully tossed water balloons and last, a blind fold guessing game. The little Jedi's battled with Vader and at the end of training, received a certified Jedi training certificate.
Chandler tucked this party into his memory as one of the best birthday's and was still talking about it on the Way to school the following Monday morning. Chandler's perception and amazement of how much the Jedi training was like the training at Disneyland tickled me, he commented on every detail from the Jedi robes to how I looked like the woman Jedi trainer. Chandler even got the Star Wars T-shirt (a $7.99 one from Wal Mart). Children only have one childhood and my hope as a parent is that my children will take with them into their adulthood happy, positive memories.
*May the force be with you*

May 7, 2008

The Happiest Place On Earth

Our family just got back from Disneyland, what A blast it was. The children had all been prior to this family trip. I myself had never relished in the Disneyland experience. I didn't know really what to expect.

Stephen and I decided to go, due to a business trip Stephen was taking and we figured we might as well make a family trip out of it since the "company" covered most of the expenses. We drove to cut on cost and what little angels the children where. They seemed to entertain themselves quite well for the nine hour trip duration.

The first night in we made it to down town Disney and the children became so animated, the kind of excitement you see from a child on Christmas morning. I iterated to them that the best part of the trip was seeing how lit up, excited and happy they were. I basked in their energy and for a three days put my kids in the drivers seat and they ran the adults around the parks. We ran here, there and every where. From sun up until midnight most nights. How exhausting it became, yet we never realized how tired we were until the strike of midnight when the parks would close and the mile walk back to our hotel became the true tale of how depleted our bodies really had become.

The whole time I was there I couldn't stop smiling and laughing, I was having the time of my life! I have heard Disneyland can't be done in a day, well I have to boast Team Roberts did it.

It was nice to have my sister Angela part of our trip. My children sure look up to her. Angela helped to corral those happy little feet and made our team a even number six. Disneyland is a magical place to those who are uninhibited and allow our inner child to explore a realm out side of our adult mind and body.
The souvenir I brought home was no tangible token, simply a memory reminding me to be young at heart, A desire to make my heart the happiest place on Earth. to remember life is the greatest gift, true happiness comes from within-