Thursday, October 23, 2008

Good Friends, Old Times: Mr. X

CJ's teacher called me Tuesday to say he was having a very emotional day at school. Apparently, he cried numerous time throughout the day -- attributing it to the divorce.

Mr. X and I have had a good 10 days or so. There have not been any ugly emails, he answered when the kids called, and he has agreed to help me sort through the school possibilities for Jada for next year. (Her current school stops at kindergarten.)

So, when the emotional issues popped up, I thought I would just have CJ call his father so they could talk. After school, CJ got in the car and instantly burst into tears. I handed him the phone and asked him is talking to Dad would help.

"Yes mom. I want to talk to him but I'm crying too hard. Can you call for me?"


"Sure, dear."

I called. He answered. I told him CJ had a rough day.

"OK. Toni, can I call you back?"


In 30 minutes he called back. Again I said, "CJ had a rough day. He's upset and asked me to call you."

"OK. What can I do to help?"


"Toni? Are you there?"

"Yes, I'm sorry. Jada was talking to me."

(Translation: Did YOU just ask ME how you could help? If I had heard that come out of your mouth before, we could possibly still be married.)

"OK. So what's up? Would it help if I talked to him?"

"Ummm...yeah. He's crying uncontrollably right now but he knows you're on the phone."

"Well...where are you guys? I just got off work and I can come see him."

Silence again. But this time I caught myself before he said anything more.

"We're headed to Applebee's. Kids eat free tonight."

"OK. I'll meet you there."


Yes he showed up. Yes the kids were estatic. Yes he talked to CJ about his school issues. Yes he talked to them about the missed birthdays. Yes we were cordial. Yes he asked me about every person at Greenhill he remembered. Yes he asked about Michael, Rosa, Elliott, Nelda, Christie, Jamie, and Gillian (our friends who took MY side). Yes I asked about his family, Tina, Tim, Cecil, and Yolanda (our friends who took HIS side). Yes the kids called him OUT on his new girlfriend/ fiance. Yes I caught him in a couple of lies (leopards never changed their spots). Yes I initiated a conversation about visitation during the holidays. And yes, I lived through it without having an alcoholic beverage.

So, here's the deal. He can be a jerk. He can be more than a jerk. But no matter how much of a jerk he is, he will always be their father and they will always love him. Even when he stands them up. even when they get a new step monster. Even when he forgets their birthdays. And because they love him unconditionally, I have chosen to befriend him unconditionally.

There you have it....good friends, old times, Mr. X.

PS- I did have one secret pleasure of the night. The kids mentioned a male family friend of ours who happens to be 38, tall, good looking, single, and "buff," as CJ says. They said that this "uncle" calls and emails them almost everyday, helps with math facts, taught them how to swim this summer, and lets them stay up late to watch the Disney channel when we are all together.

Mr. X's eyes got big, his mouth fell open, and I gazed out of the window. Nothing else needed to be said.

What are the odds?

I am posting twice today.

I just had to write and say that I HAD ANOTHER FLAT TIRE TODAY!!!!!!

The second one in 3 weeks. This time the rim is damaged. I was taking the kids to school.

I did not have an emotional breakdown like I did last time.

All I can say about it is ick.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Good Friends, New(er) Times: Right Here in Dallas

I am thankful for my new friends.

The group of friends who I've encountered since I moved to Dallas 13 years ago. They genuinely love and support me in everything I do.

These friends knew Toni Williams (a little), and Toni Holloway (a lot), and now they know Toni Williams Holloway (or whichever name I am using that day).

They are different from my old friends in that we weren't in college together, we weren't initiated into the sorority at the same time, and they don't remember the great car accident on high school graduation night. What they did do, though, in the time that I've known them -- is taken an interest in learning about all of those places and things, while simultaneously creating new memories with me. After all, these were the women who were with me in the throes of labor.

I'm also thankful for my newest friends -- those who have entered my life in the past year or so where our common bond is divorce, single parenthood, and mommying. There's no doubt that my own mommying changed in 2008 as I took time off from the real world to be more available for the kids. I'm also thankful for the moms who love a good mojito, moms who cheer with me for the Lady Hornets soccer team, and the moms who help me understand the culture of being a mommy this day and time in Dallas, TX.

Here's to you new friends! Here's to you!

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Lessons Learned

I had a huge Aha! Moment last night while doing laundry. As load after load (until all 6 loads were done) came out of the dryer, I noticed how my three children folded and put away their own clothes without being asked.

I was tired, they were tired, they knew we had a soccer game early the next morning, but yet and still, they willingly helped me.

I began to think about the past year and some of the good that has come out of this...particularly as it relates to the children and their personal growth.

1. My children know that living in a household equated to being part of a team. It takes everyone to help with the cleaning, the laundry, and getting dinner on the table. When Mr. X and I lived together, he and I often did things so we didn't have to hear the other's complaining, not realizing that the kids needed to participate. Now, we know and respect the fact that if you live in the house, you do all parts of the job.

2. We don't take the work "family" for granted. A couple of Sundays ago, we were watching Extreme Makeover Home Edition and the design team was creating a garden with adjectives that described the family etched in stone. We decided to come up with our own adjectives and then created a list defining the members of our family. We weren't exclusive, and definitely included extended family members and friends. (And yes, we even included Mr. X and his soon-to-be Mrs.)

3. We are committed to community service. All of the blogs and books I've read about overcoming divorce has suggested helping others as a means of overcoming the loss of a marriage. I have volunteered at the kids' schools a lot, the children are proactive in donating old toys and clothes, the kids volunteer at the library during preschool storytime as story assistants (they think they are so big), and we are more involved in our church this year.

4. We understand that emotional trauma makes you more aware of the mind-body-spirit connection. CJ actively meditates on his own when he's under stress. Tyra wakes up early some mornings to do yoga. Jada reminds us everyday to take our multivitamins, get a flu shot, and have some Noni juice before we leave the house. And when we've had a bad day, we all unwind with a cup of chamomille tea.

5. We love fun! We've cried a lot over the past year. We are now determined to have a ball wherever we go and with whatever we do. This afternoon, we sat around watching tv while wearing silly hats. There was no purpose to was just fun!

What lessons for good have you learned from your trials?

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Feeling Quite Fabulous

I've mentioned the Fabulous Financials of Single Ma in previous posts. It's one of the blogs that I follow regularly. Well check this out! She wrote an article for another website and quoted me...she even said I was "fabulous." WAHOOOO!

PS-The article has good tips for luxuries you can afford during these tough economic times!

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

How do you spell g-r-i-e-f?

Last month, actor Paul Newman died. I wasn't a big fan, but I do respect his work in film. As I watched his daughter speak on television about his life's accomplishments, I became saddened. What if that were my dad? Should I go out and buy some of Newman's Own salad dressing in honor of him? It just felt weird.

Last week, I found out that my first boyfriend was killed in a tragic shooting in Chicago. I had not seen or spoken to him in about 10 years, but preceding that, we were good friends and lovers who often discussed mortality in this dangerous world. He is probably what attracted me to police officers in the first place.

I was devastated as I read news accounts and watched video snippets of his funeral. At the same time, though, I felt silly. I was mourning as if he was still an active participant in my life...but he wasn't. Or was he?

After attending last week's divorce care class, it took these two deaths to make it plain and clear to me.

I never grieved any relationships I've had. I have always been scared to grieve. I was afraid of the pain. To make sure there was never any pain, I made sure we ended things on as upbeat a note as possible. We always, "remained friends."

Except this time. This divorce was about more. I have been forced to not only grieve my relationship with Mr. X, but I am also grieving the hopes and dreams for our future that I had. Needless to say, we haven't remained friends. And you guessed it, I am also grieving the other great loves of my life that I have lost. And now, one of them is not only gone from my life, but from this world as we know it, and I must grieve that too.

So now, the real work begins. I can acknowledge the pain and use the scattered remnants of each relationship and move forward. It's time to decide what worked, what didn't, was what good, what was bad, and what I could have and should have done differently.

What do you think about when you reflect on your past interpersonal relationships? What helps you make it through the grieving process?

Friday, October 10, 2008

Still Alive

The grubs have lasted yet another day. Maybe this was truly meant to be!

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Every Grub Needs a Home

My daughter, Tyra, is such an interesting person. She loves taking the knowledge she learns at school and applying it to something practical and hands on.
About a month ago, she brought home a recently-shed snake skin from her science class. Last week, she was fascinated with rollie pollies. Yesterday, she wanted to do her part to save more of the earth's creatures.
By adopting 3 grubs.
Yes. My sweet girl rescued 3 grubs from the earth and brought them home from school. She had them packaged nicely in a ziploc bag with grass and dirt.
I think I am a pretty liberal parent. I am all about learning by doing, exploring the world, caring for living things, and making a difference in the world.
However, grubs are gross.
My plan was to tell her the disadvantages of the grubs going home with us and let her make the decision to set them free.
I tried it all, but girlfriend had done her research. She googled grubs on the computer at school to find out out to take care of them.
"Grubs are the larvae of Japanese White Beetles," she said. "Many people think they are a problem because they eat grass and dirt. They just like salad," she said. "And salad is good for you."
I replied, "You know, grubs are important to the circle of life too. Timon and Pumba (from the Lion King) eat grubs."
"Timon and Pumba should be vegetarians," she said.
"Mom," she said. "No matter how matter how squirmy...a grub is a living thing that deserves love, kindness, and a place to live. These grubs were once a part of someone's family. They were lost in the world and needed to know that someone cares. That someone is me."
"What if you kill them?," says her senecal older brother.
"Then they would die knowing someone cared. I have felt like a grub sometimes," she admits. "We have been alone without Daddy but God always took care of us. I want to take care of the grubs like God takes care of us."
And so the grubs live on...happily ever after on our patio.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Lessons From Being 7

Tyra turned 7 last week (no, her father didn't call for that birthday either) and I had the opportunity to spend a lot of time with her friends at school. I took a cookie cake (cupcakes are so last year) to her class and learned a lot from her first grade buddies. Because I personally believe that children can be so much smarter than adults (you should hear Tyra's theories about John McCain), I am sharing what I learned from her friends:

1. Eating too much dairy can make you act crazy.

2. Boys and girls shouldn't play soccer together. Some sports are ok, but not soccer. Boys have different priorities when playing a game.

3. You should always wear a seatbelt. If you don't think you need to wear one, check your intake of dairy. It could be clouding your mental judgement.

4. Be careful about sharing your personal information. If you must write your address down in a public place, shread the form after it's been used.

5. Slurpies or icees or slushies are the best cure for any ailment.

6. Cheerleading is a skill that everyone should know and practice daily. Positive cheering daily can help everyone's self esteem.

7. Divorce is okay. It can actually be better than okay if you have supercool uncles.

8. Be nice to your siblings if you have any. They are the only people who will help you fight bullies when your parents aren't around.

9. Choker necklaces are back and here to stay.

10. Every girl should own at least one nutcracker. They come in all sizes and have many uses.

Friday, October 3, 2008

Good Friends, Old Times, Releasing the Pain

There about one thousand different posts that I could have written about my day this past Wednesday. And finally, I decided to just tell it like it is! Wednesday afternoon, I somehow managed to condense every emotion that I have felt over the past year into a 90-minute time frame. 90 minutes of shear emotional upheaval. More than a catharsis. Raw emotion.

Raw. Emotion.

One of my tires blew out on a busy Dallas freeway at 1:30 p.m. I had been running errands and was on my way to pick Jada from kindergarten. Dismissal is at 2:00 p.m.

As I was driving, I started to smell something burning. Within seconds, the road tripping minivan was shaking, and before I knew it, I saw pieces of tire rubber roll into the next lane. Pieces of rubber from my tire.

I pulled over onto the shoulder and instantly began counting my blessings. No children were in the car with me. No accident ensued. I could make definite afterschool arrangements for Jada from my cell phone. CJ and Tyra both had afterschool activities that didn't end until 4:30 p.m.

I counted my blessings. It could have been so much worse. I called for roadside assistance. I then called Christie because someone needed to know where I was -- and then it happened. I broke down into tears. Not because of the tire, not even because of the "what if's" it had been worse. At that moment I felt that something was missing.

I missed the feeling of security that comes from knowing there was a man I could call in a situation like that who would have my back. I didn't have that. He was missing. It was at the moment that in the past year I realized I had shifted into overdrive to handle business and take care of the kids. I never once realized that I needed to take care of me...or more specifically, have the idea that someone else would take care of me. I missed having a should to cry on and a knight in shining armor to come and rescue me.

(Please keep in mind that more than likely, the ex-knight would NOT have been able to come assist me, but it was the theory of having someone that I was thinking of).

While I was waiting, 4 police cars whizzed past me on the freeway. Not one of them stopped. That made it worse. The fraternity of law enforcement officers that I used to proudly be a part of

had not time for me.

In the midst of my tears, I decided to listen to the radio. As I turned the volume up, I felt a numbing sensation in my right hand. The tingling traveled up my arm but then moved down the right side of my body.

Having had a friend who suffered a stroke 7 years ago at the age of 29, I became instantly concerned about my physical health. As my head began to hurt, the tears began to flow harder and all I could say was "Oh God! Please don't let me die today!Those children need me! Please not now, not now!" I then exclaimed, "Oh crap! I haven't finished the book yet! If I lose the ability to use my right hand, how will I finish the book?"

Yes. I can be full of drama. And actually, Tyra was at acting class when all of this was going on.

My emotional outburst lasted for the next 30 minutes. Kindergarten Jada would say I was making a pattern:

Cry, tingle, headache, pray. Cry, tingle, headache, pray. Cry, tingle, headache pray. Cry, tingle, headache, pray.

Soon after, the roadside assistance crew arrived, the tire was changed and I was in route once again to collect my children.

It was then that I realized that I did in fact have a knight in shining armor. It was okay that it was not him, because He was there. It was Him.

Something amazing happened later that evening. The kids and I met an old friend for dinner at Luby's. As we caught up on lives and our perspective on the woes of our country, the kids were entertained by a balloon artist. By the time we left the restaurant, each child had to "regular" helium balloon, and a "special" balloon shaped like some animal.

On the way home, I heard whispering in the back seat and one of the kids asked if we could stop at the park for a few minutes. As I prepared to launch into a huge "We have too much to do tonight" speech my son said, "I want to release my balloon to the world so I can get past your divorce."


In thinking of my own need to get past the divorce (as evident from the emotional incident of only a couple of hours before) I headed to the park.

Each child said a few words, I said a prayer, we thanked the Lord for each other and our friends and family. We verbalized good wishes for their father and his fiance (surely, the 4th marriage will be a charm!) and we let the balloons go.

It was a very touching moment for us. It was poignant and powerful and everything about the moment of release made it all worthwhile. All of it.