Monday, May 31, 2010


I hate shopping, especially for clothes. Unless I know exactly what I'm looking for, it's easy to find, there are no crowds, and the parking is easy, I would just as soon make do with what I've got. However, I do enjoy looking nice. So a long time ago, I availed myself of the personal shopping service at Nordstrom. Doing a big spree once every 18 or 30 months was my way of attempting to stay relatively fashionable while avoiding having to pay much attention to clothes most of the time. Wow, how great to arrive at a dressing room full of clothes selected just for you that fit, in styles and colors you like, with someone there to give unbiased input on what works best!

The personal shopper I used at Nordstrom all these years struck out on her own a while back, but I still use her once every several years. Now that she's not affiliated with any store, we can go anywhere, and she can come to me, also. A couple weeks ago, she helped me sort through my closet, and this past Friday we did a minor shopping trip. How fun! I'm all excited about what I wear again. I haven't completely turned over a new leaf, but I do try to be a little more "put together" when I leave the house. I feel like I'm crawling out of my shell a bit, putting behind me the look, the person I was when married to T. I'm finding out who I am now, who I want to be in the future.

And I can't wait for next fall, when I'll do a major closet purge of the batch of clothes I bought six months before T died. I still remember the outfit I was wearing when I found him in our bed -- and I won't be sorry to send it and its cohorts off to Goodwill.

Sunday, May 30, 2010

Parties as a Single Parent

I took my daughter B and my step-son D to a party this afternoon, a picnic in a grassy field on the nearby college campus. It was a spectacular afternoon, and I was really looking forward to relaxing in the sun, watching the kids run around, and enjoying some adult time with friends. I was counting on someone with kids D's age (10) being there. Unfortunately, the next oldest kids were only 6. No good. D was bored, Bored, BORED. He sat in the car. He pleaded to be taken home. He ate only sweets, all the while complaining of being hungry. Finally I gave up trying to enjoy myself, took pity on him, and tossed him in the car to zip him home. Except it's 20 minutes one way, so I missed a good chunk of the party to chauffeur him.

Then upon my return, B needed to go to the bathroom, and there wasn't a close restroom, so she watered a nearby bush. But she still needed to go poop, she said, so we trekked off to find an open bathroom. Eventually we came upon an open building with a restroom, but the restroom was out of order (and had water all over the floor, otherwise I might have risked it). Wandering through the bowels of the building led to another restroom, hallelujah. And then B didn't need to go after all. Sigh.

So I didn't get all that much time to relax, and now I'm home with a bunch of picnic supplies and half-eaten food to deal with. I think I'll just leave it for the morning. It's times like these that I really hate being on my own.

Saturday, May 29, 2010

Befriending Widows

Quite a while back, I joined a Meetup group in my area for young widows and widowers. Events had been somewhat few and far between, until recently when one of the members offered to organize some weekend activities for those of us with young children. Our first get-together was today, when 8 widows ranging in age from about 35 to 45+ (I suspect I was the oldest at 47) with kids between the ages of 3 and 7 got together at a local park. It took a little while to get comfortable with each other, but then we had the predictable progression of topics: 1. How long ago was your loss. 2. How did it happen. 3. Are you dating, and how is it going.

It is so comforting to be with other people who are living much the same experience. We all laughed at our automatic reaction to seeing a man with children: check the ring finger! We commiserated over the pain of school Open Houses, with all those couples enjoying their children's work together. We talked about how our kids request a new Daddy (B continues to ask). And we shed a few tears over those who had planned to have more children.

There were several women whom I really enjoyed meeting, and I would really like to have more friends in my situation. The challenge will be making the time to reach out and nurture these new relationships. It's so easy to just stay in my shell, going from work to home to social events with familiar friends. And I notice with great dismay some hesitation in getting close to someone who might be needy. Ouch, what's that all about? Maybe I can rationalize it as protecting myself, since I barely have enough resources to keep my own head above water, let alone support someone else. I hope that's what it is -- I don't want to imagine that I'm not a generous, compassionate person.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Before and After

I just realized today that B has been alive without her Daddy longer than she was alive with him. I have been a single parent longer than I was parenting with a partner. The realization was like a dagger in the heart. And simultaneously, it felt about right. I've worked hard for my sense of competence and independence in parenting, and B is certainly a very different child from when T was alive. As our lives continue to unfold, and we share new experiences, grow and change, we move further away from the wife and child that T knew. That part is OK. The part that hurts is that it feels like we move further away from T, too.

But we still talk about Daddy often, and read stories about grief and loss. B has several times now said, "I'm going to die when you die." What can I say to that? I know that it's just an expression of dawning awareness of what death really is, and how loss feels. I respond with, "Well, no one knows when they're going to die, but I think you'll probably live a lot longer than I will. And I don't plan to die until you're a grown up woman, maybe with children of your own. We'll be together for a very long time."

"I want a new Daddy," she said tonight. Yeah, I want you to have one, too.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Remembering what's really important on Mother's Day

Mother's Day was not a big deal for me this year. I don't actually remember it being a terribly big deal last year, and the first year was so close on the heals of T's death that I don't think it made any difference that it was supposed to be a special day. This year I got an invitation to Mother's Day brunch at my older brother's house, a "Happy Mother's Day" phone call from my younger brother, a Facebook greeting from my dad's wife (she's pretty savvy on the computer!), and an email from my mother-in-law. A dear friend sent me a sampler of Jeni's Splendid Ice Creams, and B and I had Mother's Day dinner (complete with cards and flowers) at my step-son's mother's house.

It wasn't all rosy -- I woke Sunday morning with a scratchy sore throat, and stayed home in the morning instead of subjecting my brother and his family to my germs -- and I did feel sorry for myself. "Poor me, all alone with a cold and a 3-year-old", I thought more than once during the day. But then B and I played with the old baby sling I used to carry her in as an infant, and we learned that I can still hoist her around in it for 30 seconds or so until my back and shoulder give out. We found old photos of her as an infant being carried around in it, and we took pictures of ourselves with the timer, proving that I still can carry her "hands free".

She is my joy and my delight. She made me a mother, and just spending silly time with her on Mother's Day is about the best thing I can imagine.

Saturday, May 8, 2010

Since T died, I've been sleeping on his side of the bed. It's the side next to the door, and the clock radio is there too, but probably most importantly, the bed feels less empty with me sleeping there. And I still go to bed on that side. But interestingly, recently I've been waking up in the morning to find myself on the other side of the bed, my head on the other pillow and everything, as if I'm making room for someone.

I feel both content in my life as it is today, and ready and open for a new relationship. So I'm on the lookout for something exciting around the corner!

Friday, May 7, 2010

Evidence of the New Normal

The other day as I was delivering B to preschool, I was asked if I was planning to attend the upcoming school fund-raiser concert and live auction. "No", I said, "Unfortunately I've got other plans". It didn't strike me until I was getting into the car that I said "I" and not "we", even though the "you" the questioner meant was most likely plural -- me and my husband. Did he notice? Did it seem odd to him that I answered as if there were no partner in the picture? At one time I would have been acutely aware of my change in status, of no longer being able to refer, even very indirectly, to a husband who shares my life with me. It seems that I'm used to this new life, where the unit of measure is one. Saying "I" instead of "we" no longer engenders heartache. Heck, I don't even notice. I guess I've internalized the single lifestyle.

That's not to say that I would have enjoyed going to the event, where everyone is there with a partner, in a happy intact nuclear family. I've also learned on this journey that discretion is the better part of valor -- I stay away from situations that accentuate my single status, that remind me of what I had and lost.