Monday, May 5, 2014

Parenting Class Graduate

A few weeks ago, I received a lovely letter in the mail from the State of Pennsylvania. It’s contents? Well, simply put, it stated that since I was involved in a custody situation (i.e. from the divorce, seeking shared custody of R), I was required by the court to attend a state-mandated class on co-parenting. For the low, low price of $60 (money order only...who gets a money order?!) I was able to attend a class where there were NO snacks or beverages. What a rip.

Anyway, I got up and made myself look pretty decent, considering I was up most the night with a sick baby. I drove up, 10 minutes early, coffee in hand, ready to perhaps meet my second husband...a single, broken-hearted divorcee with one child, a sparkling smile, witty personality and respectable employment.

Newsflash: I walked into the class and it took me .35 seconds to realize I would NOT be meeting my future second husband there. At risk for sounding incredibly stuck-up and arrogant, I’ll say this with the utmost humility...I was the most respectable person in the room. For a few reasons.

  1. I was the only person there without a mass amount of tattoos. For instance, the gentleman in front of me sporting a ripped t shirt and cut off jorts, had an interesting conglomeration of tats on his leg. I could only see half, but there was a bike chain in the shape of a “B”, nun-chucks and a pair of crutches. I spent most of the class figuring out the story behind them.
  2. I’m hazarding a guess here, but I would go out on a limb to say that I was one of the only attendees without a criminal record.
  3. The teacher introduced himself and stated that he was a therapist at the local maximum security prison.
  4. When bathroom breaks were given, I was one of two people who actually went to the bathroom instead of out the door to suck on a cancer stick.

These four factors left me wondering a few things. Surely, I couldn’t be the only decent person in the county getting divorced. My lawyer told me this class was a necessary evil, but maybe everyone else knew something I didn't?

Now, I’m not completely knocking the class. There was useful information. Most common sense. But most likely, the people that need it most, will not listen. We watched an informative video about the effects of divorce on children. Which then made me have a complex about the rest of R’s life and how I might have ruined him for the future.

But then I realized that, thus far, the ex and I have had a fairly reasonable co-parenting experience, which we can hopefully continue. This was affirmed to me when I heard the lady in back of me pipe up with, “My ex don’t pay me no child support. He ain’t worth nothin’. I don’t need him anyway. I’m an independent woman.”

Get it, girl. Holla at yo ladies.

Don’t worry, I’ve successfully graduated from co-parenting class. I even have a certificate to prove it. Perhaps I’ll frame it and hang it on my wall at the new place.

Nah. I’ll put it in R’s scrapbook.

I finished out my day in the ER with R, as he was diagnosed with RSV and an ear infection. I swear, someday this kid will either be immune to all communicable diseases, or he’s prepping to be an Avenger.

Thursday, May 1, 2014

Virtually Familiar

Sometimes a moment throws you into a memory. The note of a familiar song, a certain scent, a phrase mumbled innocently by a passerby.

Today, I got lost so deep in memories that I had to really shake myself back to reality. I had to look something up on Google maps and this location was equipped with ever-convenient and incredibly fascinating street view option. The place I was looking up, happened to be in a Baltimore suburb that I frequented during my 4 years of residence.

For a solid 20 minutes, I virtually navigated from my original destination on the map, down several streets and practically into the neighboring town. I was transported back to a time in my life that I will forever cherish. I could practically smell the scent of my overheated car, rolling down the highway at a blinding 15 miles per hour. Yes, traffic on the Beltway kicked my butt almost daily. One fender bender or tiny rain drop sent the traffic lining up as far as the eye could see. Making my blood pressure rise and my gas gauge fall. Such is city life.

I could smell the Old Bay on hot crabs and could hear the cracking of a cold beer. So many nights were spent with good friends, a bucket of crabs and a cooler of beer.

I felt the carefree feeling I had on a Friday afternoon on my way home to a  weekend full of possibilities with my husband. We’d often fire up the grill, open a bottle of wine and spend a warm spring evening on the deck, watching the dogs chase each other in our sprawling yard until it was so dark, all we could see was the twinkling of lightning bugs.

Weekends were spent taking care of household tasks, seeing friends, eating great food at tiny, family-owned restaurants throughout the two counties we frequented. Sundays were great for naps of unlimited length, loads of laundry and binge-watching the latest TV series we’d discovered on Netflix.

Then the ringing of the phone jolted me back to reality. These are the moments when I cling to the past and long for a former life.

My commute is now one without traffic and typically predictable. My warm spring evenings are spent chasing a laughing little boy around the yard, followed by a 7 PM bath time and a mad dash to get everything together for the following day. My Friday afternoons are spent either in the car for two hours dropping R off with his dad, or figuring out how to get him to eat something other than goldfish crackers for dinner. Visiting with friends is a rare treat and eating out is even rarer. Although, I do continue to watch Netflix, just not in rapid succession. Naps? I wish there were more.

These are the times I must be sure to shake myself from the impending inner emotional outcry and remember that I have a thousand things for which I can be thankful. Dwelling on the past never did much for anyone, I presume. Sometimes, though, these moments come without warning and though you may lose yourself in time travel, you must always find your way back to the present and realize you’re exactly where you’re supposed to be.