Collateral Damage

When your kids are sad – and I don’t mean mad or annoyed – but downright sad, it breaks your heart in a way you can’t even explain. You feel like your whole body is lead. Just heavy and dull and blah. Your brain kinda fogs up and you can’t think straight.

I’ve been in a bit of a funk since my little She-ra (7 yr old) had a difficult time the other night when I dropped her off at Daddy’s (aka Grayheart’s) house. She didn’t want to be there, didn’t want to leave me, etc. She does this frequently. Not as much lately but I figure that coming off of the weekend with me was certainly not going to have her want to leave her cozy home to start the weekend with him. (My almost 4 yr old son, though, has no issues.)

So I always leave feeling crummy. She clings to me and cries and begs. And it sucks. 

She usually gets over it soon thereafter and Grayheart normally texts me to let me know all is good. 

But this time she took a bit longer to recover. She wailed to him how unfair this whole set up is. She wanted to be at her home. Not his

So he patiently listened to her as she complained that the divorce is the cause of him not being at home. And that she doesn’t understand it, doesn’t like it and wishes he’d just move back in. 

What do you say to that?! I mean, honestly, you respond with the typical explanation: how it’s this way for a reason, blah, blah, blah… but she’s right. Divorce sucks. She’s been put in a position where she has to split her time between the two adults she loves the absolute most. And since she’s 7, she remembers having an intact household. (Whereas my son doesn’t.)

So he talked her through it – and did a nice job, I must admit – and she recovered. But it’s moments like this that just pop out of nowhere – even a year and a half later – that throw you off. That even though they’re “ok” and “doing well”, kids are collateral damage. And that is depressing.

My friend, TheEuphoricIraqiSingleMom, brought up recently the topic of staying in a loveless marriage in regards to a friend of hers. I’ve thought about it before. How much would I be willing to sacrifice to make sure my kids had an intact, whole family? Could I ever get back with Grayheart just for the kids? Could I ever forgive what he’s done to me? Could I pretend I love him just to make sure I could be with my kids all the time? 

And the answer is, I can’t. I don’t see him the same. I don’t love him like I once did. He actually repulses me, in a way. I know I’d never get back with him but sometimes I’m disappointed in myself because it seems selfish. I know from a logical standpoint that I’m being silly, but that little voice loves to taunt me at times. Especially when I have a setback with my kids.

Anyway, darling daughter is fine now and hasn’t brought up any concerns…and seemed to have a lovely weekend with her father. So, I’m guessing this is normal.

Nonetheless, divorce sucks. 

xo

Athena

Spring has Sprung!

March was a busy month and April is proving to be just as exciting! I love Spring! Lots of birthdays this time of year for us and all kinds of celebrations. 

Here’s a bit of why I have been missing (besides my phone-in-toilet situation)!

My darling daughter turned 7!

  

I’m certainly no cake decorator but we did a home celebration for her!

Ice cream made with liquid nitrogen! Aptly called Brain Freeze!

Took the kids to the Dade County Youth Fair!

 
 

Visit to the ballet! My first time!

  

Bravo! Midsummer’s Night Dream cast

Coffee at Books & Books

 
 

Discovered a restaurant in Key Largo that we love called “Lucy’s”!

 
 

Third row seats to the Miami Heat vs Cavs game! Kindly gifted to us by a friend!

   

Outside the arena with my love ❤️

 

These seats were incredible! Such an exciting game!

 
 

Attended a Cancer Survivor Walk with my family 💜

 
 

My mom, my hero and favorite woman in the world! 4 years cancer free now!

 
   

Happy St Paddy’s Day!

 

Easter Egg Race

  

Tons of goodies found by Spiderman!

 

Easter sack race!

And finally we start April… I turned 36 and had a ton of fun with all the birthday festivities! Captain made it very special for me. We had an incredible weekend complete with mini golf, driving range, laser tag, games at Dave & Busters, a tennis match, wonderful dinners, movies and shopping! Whew! 

Mini Golf!

Laser Tag with my besties!

  

Awesome seats at the Miami Open!

  

   

Women’s Finals match! Victoria Azarenka serving!


   

 

Mens’ Doubles Finals Match

       

Bday dinner at the Rusty Pelican in Key Biscayne

  

Night of dancing!

  

Gaming!

 

 

Paint Nite & dinner with my Mom

  

Final product! I’m obviously no artist but boy is it fun!

  

Nature walk at Pinecrest Gardens & Farmers Market time!

 

It’s been a fun filled few weeks and I feel very loved and blessed. I have an incredible family, boyfriend and group of friends. Never imagined I’d be here. A year ago I was grappling with uncertainty, pain, bouts of sadness, unsure of a new relationship, tons of concern for my kids, anger and confusion. I can’t say it’s all 100% gone but I can certainly say I’m a good 80% better. And I’ll take that. I’m looking straight ahead and welcoming what’s in store for me and my kids.
Thank you all for checking in on me and always supporting my progress. ❤️💜❤️

Besos,

Athena

Bizarre evening 

*This is a longer than usual post, sorry!*

Last week, Grayheart had the kids all day for Presidents’ Day.  He took them to a museum and then ran errands.

By the time he got them back to me that evening, he looked like he’d been through the battle of his life. His eyes were red and sunken, his face aged 10 years and his posture looked deflated. This was a man that looked defeated.  

I asked how the kids had behaved with him.

His response as he plopped into the dining room seat? 

“They were awful. They don’t listen. They fight constantly. It was overwhelming.”

Then he started to tear up! Literally tears springing to his eyes and trickling down his cheeks. 

I was shocked. This is not a man that shows emotion easily. 

I stood there frozen facing him as I had absolutely no idea what to do. He seemed so broken and sad. Here is a man I once loved, my former best friend, the father of my kids crying in front of me. My first inclination was to hug and console him. But I couldn’t move.

I was worried the moment would’ve turned into an attempt on his part to kiss me or have too heartfelt of an embrace.

I have absolutely no interest in that for a number of reasons.

So I was relieved when my son called for me and I ran into the other room to tend to him. Grayheart escaped to the bathroom to gather himself.

When he returned, he announced his departure and I walked him out.

“What is wrong, Grayheart?”

“This is hard. I try to make the most of my time with them. I don’t have them as often as you do. I’ve spent my whole day yelling at them or separating them from fighting. Then, I’m cleaning after them a bunch… It’s hard to spend quality time.”

I almost laughed out loud at this. These were many of my concerns when we first separated. Although it’s tough being outnumbered, I’ve managed well. 

He continues, while still crying, “I guess this is what happens when you have a split household.” Followed by a big sigh and him looking sideways at me.

I’m still uncomfortably awkward and feeling bad for him and confused. So I end with, “Yup. Yeah. I guess so…Well, let me know what I can do to help make it better with the kids.”

  

———————————

I know exactly what’s happened here. I hadn’t written about it because, frankly, I didn’t care enough. But him and Raggedy Ann broke up last month. He didn’t tell me but I could sense it. He has been different. 

So he’s a bit down about the whole thing. He sees himself alone and having possibly made a bad decision.

Then, Valentine’s Day rolls around and Grayheart drops by to give the kids their cards and chocolates. What does he pop in on? My lovey little brood having a blast playing kickball with me and Captain in my backyard of what used to be “our” home. We are nice to him but it’s definitely an awkward moment. (Kids were pleased as punch. They had no clue.)

Captain & my son playing ball

All of a sudden, he’s an outsider to his own family. He not only sees his family having a great time with another man but at that moment he realized his role as man of the house was backfilled with my boyfriend. He gets the kids the next day and nothing goes right. The family unit feels lopsided and missing something… me!

Now, let me just say that Grayheart is a great dad. He will never be “replaced” as Daddy by any man. I don’t play games with my kids or him about it. A partner on either side is a bonus.

Let me also clarify that I didn’t get the impression he was trying to hit on me. But I do think he was feeling me out since he was incredibly sad. And I’m not falling for it. 

Grayheart will never change. The grass will always be greener on the other side. He’ll always want someone to feed his ego. And he’ll always be a dick. And moody. And selfish. 

I wouldn’t have chosen this life for my kids. My ideal situation would have been us as a strong/functioning/happy intact family without all this hurt.

But I’m better and happier than I’ve been in a verrrrrry long time. And I don’t think it’s a superficial type of happiness. I’ve worked really hard on healing from the inside out. The last year and a half has taught me a lot: I’m better without him as a partner. 

Stay tuned. I don’t think this is over. 

xo

  

Thanksgiving = Success!

Thanksgiving was a success!

Captain joined us for dinner and he got along soooo well with my family (i.e. my mom, stepfather, sister, grandparents, stepsister, etc.)! My kids (3 & 6) really like him so it was nice to have my family see them in action.

And because Captain’s a gentleman, he brought over 5 lbs of Florida stone crabs, corn and a case of beer. 😉 Major brownie points scored!

  
 

Captain & kids husking corn together

 

Grayheart came by during dessert. They finally officially met. They shook hands hello then Grayheart went over to chat with the kids. He lasted about 15-20 minutes at the house and then said adios  to everyone. (He shook hands with Captain goodbye and said he’d see him down the road.)

Mom’s famous flan!

 
It was awkward but nothing went awry. It was weird having them both at my my mom’s house yet Grayheart was now an outsider. Made me feel kind of bad for him, to be honest. (Not that I should, I mean, Grayheart chose this life. Captain came aboard way after we separated.)

This was my motto on Thanksgiving!

Nonetheless, dinner was delicious, conversation flowed wonderfully and it really felt like a happy Thanksgiving with the people I love the most.

Makes me excited for Christmas! 🌲

xoxo

Today’s Motto:  

A year ago…

A year ago Grayheart moved out. We’d started our separation discussions and plans in September 2014 but he moved out the Sunday before Thanksgiving 2014. 

We spent Thanksgiving together as a family and it went smoothly.  

For many months, he visited my home nightly (he didn’t have a place he could take them to) and stayed over the nights I would go out (ex. Friday night fun, etc.).  It was torture having to see him so frequently and go through the pain of knowing he was enjoying his life with his mistress, Raggedy Ann.  But I powered through and knew that the kids were doing well due to the united front.

Fast forward to 2015.  Grayheart rents a townhouse and we have separated our lives. He’s a great father and takes the kids twice a week for dinner and now has them overnight every Thursday and every other weekend. The kids are doing really well, all things considered. I’ve taken them to a child psychologist and she’s very happy with their progress.

As for my relationship with him… We have our ups and downs. We get along in a superficial manner and I try to avoid getting into any deep conversations with him. I’m still angry and hurt. Not like I was before but it still lingers. I feel at times like I have things that were left unsaid.  I won’t bother going there but at times it gnaws at me.  

I’ve been reflecting as Thanksgiving comes upon us and things have changed a lot in a year. But I got through it and am grateful.

So this year, my mom will host Thanksgiving again. My kids will be with me. And my lovely boyfriend, Captain, will be attending. *smile*

And Grayheart asked if he could come by. *frown*

And I said yes. *grimace*

What was I supposed to say?

He has no family here and I would hate to separate him from the kids. 

Sigh. You know the saying “The road to hell is paved with good intentions”? Yeah, that’s me. Always me. Lol!

Wish me luck! 

  
Hope all of you have an easy and happy Thanksgiving this year! Lots to be thankful for! 

XO

My Mother-in-law

My Mother-in-law’s birthday was last week but we didn’t connect until a few days later.  I don’t speak much with her but we have always had a good relationship.

My MIL is an interesting woman. She suffers from panic disorders, anxiety and depression. She’s witnessed the death of two husbands and has a really screwed up family. She’s overweight, a chain smoker, always has some sort of ailment, etc. I feel her sons (Grayheart included) are often too hard on her and don’t understand or sympathize with her.

I’m not her daughter so I can’t attest to how good of a mom she was to her sons while raising them. They harbor resentment even though they all have a relationship with her. I think they’re often too abrasive with her given how sensitive she is… but it’s not my business.

Mother memeShe’s not the most active grandmother but she cares for my rugrats and checks up on them every so often. She remembers birthdays and always send Christmas gifts. She usually visits once a year from up North. She’s always been kind to me so I don’t have any complaints.

I feel like she’s only capable of so much given her history and disorders. I haven’t really spoken to her more than maybe twice in the last year.  I know she cares. She’s just different.

So we caught up on the family and she asked how I was. I replied I was doing well and that Grayheart and I were doing a nice job handling the kids throughout the divorce. And then I let it slip that his girlfriend, Raggedy Ann, had met the kids and all was fine.

She had no idea he had a girlfriend.

They’ve been together over a year now.

I didn’t get into any details with her about it. But I sure as hell made sure she knew this was the woman that was an active participant in the destruction of our marriage.

So I’m taking it that Grayheart is still a bit embarrassed about his rough beginnings with Raggedy. And doesn’t want to be judged for it.

Fucker.

But as meaningless as it is, part of me felt good that he’s kept this part of his life semi-compartmentalized. I had a small and temporary feeling of superiority. Silly, I know. But sometimes it’s these little things that make you feel better.

I’m finally putting my mother-in-law’s bday card in the mail now. Better late than never.

xo

Amsterdam – Good eats!

This is my second visit to Amsterdam and I continue to love this city so much!

I noticed a slight change in the city since my last visit in 2007, particularly the food scene. There is still an abundance of different ethnic cuisines, but I found a ton of new (what I think of as) “California style” restaurants and really enjoyed them. People tend to give the Dutch a hard time about their food but I love all the options this area has to offer!

So you all already know I basically pac-manned my way through France! Well, do not fret because I was almost as gluttonous in Amsterdam as well!

Here are some fun food pics:

Dutch pancakes – Sweet & Savory!

Cheese, please!

Hot chocolate!

Waffle a la mode complete with Nutella!

Lovely healthy dinner

And then we may have dabbled in some other delicacies while there…

While on the topic of good eats… Found this in a window front of a store! LMAO! Hope there’s no one sensitive reading!

#goorganic

Stay tuned for pics around town!

XO

Athena

Thoughts on Paris

I was in Paris for 4 days. Frankly, too short of a time.  I barely scratched the surface of this incredible city.

Paris is historic and edgy and cool and no nonsense. There’s a seedy side mixed between regular life and tourists galore. My expectations were looooow as to how friendly people were going to be so I was pleased with how our peeps were treated. I tried really hard to speak the little pathetic French I know so I think that helped. And, c’mon! Who can resist my charm?

So here are some of the interesting experiences we had, in no particular order:

– Upon arrival, we took the train from the airport to where we were staying. It was morning and we were exhausted… But then we were revived with rappers on the train rhyming in French to some reggaeton songs! Woot woot! ¡Dále!

  

– We rented an apartment with an amazing rooftop view. We had drinks, breakfast and great convo up there. Not to mention we watched the Eiffel Tower light up each night. 

  

– Another night, a group of people were jamming with a speaker on the park behind the Eiffel Tower. We jumped in, danced the night away and had a ball!!!

  

– One night (more like wee hours of the morning) outside our window, we heard some guy screaming for the police right after what sounded like a scuffle between him and two guys. I think he got mugged! 

  

– Had tea in the little shopping area where the Louvre is located.

  

– Lovely walk and quality time with my family in the Jardin du Luxembourg.

  

– I got cursed out by a homeless man while having dinner next to the window front of a restaurant. He was drunk and missing a shoe and disheveled and looking for a fight. Certainly made my night lively! Oh, and I tried escargot for the first time. 

 

– Watched break dancers off the steps at Trocadero, across from Eiffel Tower.

   

And countless other funny things that are only funny when there.  I’m sure none of these things are particularly unique but it’s some of the colorful memories I had during my slice of Parisian life.

I can’t wait to return one day!

PS – The smoking is out of control, though. Yuck!

Bonne nuit!
  

5 Photos & Story Challenge: Goodbye Dad – Photo/Story #2

My buddy, Rob of The V-Pub invited me to a 5 day challenge to join the Five Photos, Five Stories Challenge: “Post a photo each day for five consecutive days and attach a story to the photo. It can be fiction or non-fiction, a poem or a short paragraph and each day nominate another blogger for the challenge”.

IMG_4003

My father passed away in 2007.  After he was cremated, my uncles, siblings and I all scattered his ashes in the bay where it was done for his parents when they died.  As kids they would all hang out and go fishing in this area.  We tossed white roses in the water and this particular lonely one stood out.

I certainly don’t mean to be a Debbie Downer with this story but this photo feels like it appropriately captured the feeling of the moment.  My father and I were very close and the loss was a big one for our family.  I know he’s resting in peace and protecting us from above. 🙂

Here’s where I now nominate someone to do it.  I nominate the super hilarious and wise Gratuitous Rex!  No offense taken if you don’t do it, buddy, but would love to hear what you got!