Tag Archives: friendship

10 ways to support friends who are parents going through divorce

23 Nov

How do you activate your village in the middle of a divorce? I find it’s hard to put into words what I need while I’m grieving.

In one week, I moved out of our family home and into my own place and I opened a new bank account, while K got a new puppy, who is quite likely the new love of our daughter’s life.

Thankfully, I have a community of family and friends-who-are-family, who check-in with me regularly and field my crisis calls and S.O.S. texts with love, kindness, strength and clarity. Sometimes they even know what I need before I do.

So I thought: If I share some of how my village has shown up for me, and some of what I’ve asked them to do, will it resonate with someone else who’s struggling to activate their village? Maybe.

Here is what I wrote that week, which was first published on The Next Family and then today on page 4 of the Windy City Times. ❤

wct-guest-column-11-23-2016

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Why we gather in times of grief

7 Feb

I have been staring out the window by our bed at these unfamiliar trees –

tall, lean, bare, warm-seeming, bunched together yet not crowded,

in family groups, tall trees on either side of shorter trees,

staring at their branches, twisting silhouettes against the ever-more-blue sky,

reaching, reaching up, curling their tendrils up towards the sun,

their lovely fingers soon to sprout the first green growth of spring

as surely as I am awake here in Maine witnessing them through a window frame,

all of them reaching, each of them unique,

rooted together in a forest of whispering snow,

blanket acceptance,

 

like we are

gathered here together

reaching for the sun,

silhouettes

against an ever-more-blue sky.

20160128_081636-1.jpg

~ especially for L and C

Those little bits

12 Mar

wpid-vzm.img_20150307_154638.jpgIn my twenties, all was effervescence and need and passion and instinct and there was never a safety net. Friendship or bust! We held our hands out, wiggling our fingers, and held on. For a Very.Long.Time.

New friendship is more challenging. More intentional.

* * * * *

I open my heart to the world these days in the safest place I know – a theater kid on the digital stage – but in real life? There’s an acronym for it now: IRL …

A wholly different terrain.

Starts and stops. Trusting. And not trusting, too.

* * * * *

I remember my friend C from high school. I remember her often. My first love. For months, I longed to see the journal she shared with her dearest friends. She bared herself on the page; I knew this instinctively. I wanted her to let me in. I remember the day she handed it to me, allowed me to hold its soft cover, to inhale its pages. I remember placing it in my backpack, terrified it might come to harm in my possession, placing it between my books, concealing it with clothes and papers, desperate to hold it close and surround it with softness, understanding she had handed me her heart.

* * * * *

A log tumbles off the pile. Sparks fly, contained in the fireplace, the place for fire. What happens when … the fire is too big? When the place where wood is meant to ignite and burn is too small?

* * * * *

We are sitting in my daughter’s cello lesson, her hair in two front braids, her feet in two purposely mismatched socks flat on the floor, and she is taking her teacher’s instruction, adjusting her hold on the bow – hard, but she’s staying with it, her teacher lately finding ways to bring her attention back to the present, the music, the lesson. I sit nearby, taking mental notes to remind her when she practices at home to hold the bow the way her teacher showed her on this wintry sunny day while the police cars clustered outside the window and she listened, turned her head away from the disruption, and played.

* * * * *

Dig deep. Fall hard. Breathe. Rest.

* * * * *

I remember arriving in London with my one-year-old, exploring our neighborhood, stocking up on groceries, unpacking the two suitcases we were living out of until the rest of our belongings – packed onto a ship – arrived. I remember the house alarm that greeted us when we let ourselves in the front door for the very first time — after a full day of travel, after landing in the country to stay for two years — the shock of it, the piercing volume, teetering between giddy hysteria and fury. How could we not know how to turn the darn thing OFF?

I remember the bookstore – Daunt Books – and the organic market with fresh fruit and vegetables, fresh flowers … I remember sometimes for an adventure, Miss E and I would leave the stroller home and walk the full three blocks to Budgens grocery store, kneeling to greet every flower along the way. It could take us a full two or three hours if we really lost ourselves in the moment. Usually, I brought a snack with us just in case.

I remember my cousin-in-law suggested I start a blog. I could barely string sentences together. My mind was a new-mom expat mess. I could not imagine putting myself on public display.

* * * * *

Dig deep. Fall hard. Breathe. Rest.

* * * * *

I remember the time (which came to an end yesterday) when my partner was gone for nearly a week. I remember my day job and puppy care and tween care and forgotten homework and adult company only in fits and starts and never in a calm after-bedtime-quiet kind of way.

* * * * *

Dig deep. Fall hard. Breathe. Rest.

* * * * *

Right now, I’m resting.

Writer’s Weekend

12 Feb

I went away last weekend.

Like: Away.

Like: Leave the family – the kid, the dogs, the cat, the laundry – at home and LEAVE TOWN. To write. To be a writer. To set a few goals. To free-write. Remember that? Free writing? Writing to cleanse the soul. To play. To be. Writing I may share or {gasp} not share. Free. For a whole weekend. Free from responsibilities. Free from duty. Free, free, free.

Because my family supports my writing – my Honey, both girls, even the dogs (trust me on this), I can actually ditch town for a full weekend just.for.me. Even if this is the first time I’ve done it in over ten years – since becoming a mom and, yes, I was wracked with guilt half the time – even while the tween was having the time of her life with a sleepover and two playdates and dancing and movie-making and stories and art and PLAY, PLAY, PLAY.

Even while my Honey had friends over both nights, and then up to and well beyond the moment I arrived home. Even so.

The guilt. My, oh, my.

Or maybe it was just that they could get along without me.

I’m told that bit gets easier.

I went away with a friend. A new friend. A coworker. A writer. We told stories for days – well, two days, but – you know? STORIES. To each other. And on the page. I adore this friend. I really do. In part because he handled warmly and gracefully my quiet melancholy in the woods, my need for silence, my insecure brooding self. How many friends do any of us have who can handle all that? These friends are gifts.

Here’s what our weekend looked like:

Writing Weekend Snacks

Writing Weekend One Computer

Writing Weekend Two Computers

Writing Weekend Too Much Light

Writing Weekend Fridge

When we stopped writing, we walked.

Writing Weekend Road

Writing Weekend Pictures of Trees   Writing Weekend Snowy Trees

And by the time we were ready to go – after hours of writing and talking and listening – I found my perspective shifting more naturally, less haltingly, both my feet on solid ground.

 

 

Writing Weekend Path to the Not so Frozen Lake

Writing Weekend Leaves and Ice

Writing Weekend Snowy Leaves Melting Ice

Writing Weekend Ice Melt

It was … precisely … what I needed.

All of it.

Snow

and leaves,

melting ice and

friendship. And words.

So, so, so many words

falling into place, all

in their own

time.

Girls

15 Apr

If, in young friendship,

a promise is born

of hope and wishes

only and remains

unkept, then whose

heart breaks more?

The girl waiting

for the promise to be

fulfilled, or the girl

unable to fulfill it?

And if each girl

understands

the other,

and they

move on,

stronger together

for what they know,

are they really

as young as

we, the adults,

might believe?

 

National Poetry Writing Month
30 poems in 30 days

Reunion

7 Apr

You know how, when you meet an old

friend you haven’t seen in a long time

and she asks how things are going

or she asks what’s new in the last

fifteen years or so, or she asks if you’re

married or if you have kids or if you have

a job that reaches to the bottom of your soul

and pulls your happy out in spades,

you have to . . . respond?

Do you offer her your life’s timeline

in three minutes flat? Do you pull out your

phone and show her maybe a picture of a cat

or a kid or a flower you found growing

in your garden last spring, one you

almost yanked out of the ground before

you discovered it had the softest, lightest

petals of any flower you’d ever seen

and you decided to let it stay? Do you show

her the picture of a mop in a turned-over

bucket from last spring when flash floods

caught you off-guard at the end of a very

long day, demonstrating the limits

of your basement to protect you

from rain? Or do you give her

a great long bear hug and tell her

just what happened today?

National Poetry Writing Month
30 poems in 30 days

Crush

28 Sep

My daughter has a crush on someone, but won’t say who it is.

Instead, she asks me to tell stories about my own crushes when I was her age.  I tell her about chasing Mark Stockwell around the playground in First Grade every day at lunch, getting his phone number from his best friend and learning it by heart.  And about Ray Ortega, my square dance partner in Fourth Grade gym class who left a small jewelry box and a card on my desk for the last day of school, with a ring inside and earrings.

“What about after you knew you liked girls?” my daughter asks. “Tell me about your crushes then.”

She wants stories and names.  “How did they look?” she wants to know. “How did you feel? What did you do?”  Girls and boys, both.  She just wants to KNOW.  I’m dying to know who she likes, too, but I only ask once and she doesn’t say.

She peppers me with questions about middle school and high school crushes.  I offer scant details, just enough for her age.  I am touched by her curiosity.

Especially after the conversation we had in the grocery store parking lot the other day.

I had just parked the car when she told me for the seven millionth time that her friend had a crush and wouldn’t tell her who the crush was on.  That her friend wouldn’t say who it was really bothered her.  Hmmmmm…  I asked my daughter if it was possible that her friend didn’t have a crush on anyone at all. She assured me that was utter nonsense.  She knew there was a crush and her friend just wouldn’t trust her with the name.

I asked, “What if she has a crush on a girl?”

“Then I wouldn’t be her friend,” my daughter replied, right there in the grocery store parking lot.

I spent a lot of time with kids in my pre-parenting days and I’d asked this question many times, but I had always braced myself for their answers.  This time, I was speechless.  As an “out” lesbian mom, I never expected to have this conversation with my kid.

My daughter has my back.  I know she does.  She wore a shirt to school last year that said, “I [Heart] My Moms” and not 24 hours ago, she interrupted a song on her favorite radio station while squeezed between two friends in the backseat of my car, declaring, “I hate Justin Bieber!  He says mean things about us. I mean… about my… mom.”

But she’s growing up in this culture with a value system that only sometimes jives with mine.

This conversation wasn’t about me. It was about Third Grade. Her and her friends. Her playground, her posse, their games at recess.  Trust and loyalty.  Doing what her friends think is right and fun and good, following the rules of their latest game.

We were out of the car now and walking at quite a clip, nearing the automatic glass doors.

“Really?” I finally said. “You’re friends with me and I like girls.”  I waited for her to react.

“That’s different.  We’re close.  You’re my mom.”

“I know, but I was a kid once, too, and when I had crushes, I told my friends.  Now I’m not saying your friend has a crush on a girl – she probably doesn’t – I honestly have no idea who she has a crush on, or if she has a crush at all – I’m just saying that if you do have a friend someday who tells you she has a crush on a girl, she will need you to keep on being her friend.”

She stopped and really took this in. She wasn’t contrary. She didn’t fight me.  She stayed quiet a moment, as I had.  Then she began naming various friends who could maybe start liking girls “like that” someday.  We imagined together the conversations she might have with these friends, how it might feel to continue the friendships after they told her how they felt.  Closer. More trusting.

She even tossed her own name into the mix, as if she might be the one someday who “likes girls like that, like you wanna kiss them.”

It seems unlikely, given her passion for boys – but maybe. It’s too early to know for sure.

What I do know is this:

– She seemed lighter on her feet as we entered the store.

– We bought cereal and applesauce.

– And just like that, we were done – and on to other things.

What I hope is this:

– She will always have a friend she can trust with the name of her crush.

– She will always be a friend her friends can trust.

– We will continue to grapple with things in the open, as we have so far.

– I will learn to accept what is not yet known.

** What do you remember about your first crush? **

———–

Photo discovered at http://www.trainweb.org/kimura/ocfmc/vball/2007/index.html.

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