About Moxie Girl Musings

Moxie Girl Musings is about starting over from square one after tragedy impacted my young family. It's filled with stories of triumph, struggle, snafus, hopes, and dreams. Sometimes there will be features from other writers that I like and every so often I'll include an original short story, but normally I simply write what's on my mind at the time. Welcome to my unfiltered true-life story as I figure out this thing called life. http://www.amberleaeaston.com

Monday, June 28, 2010

There comes a time

Like a chick cracking through the egg into the new world, I have pecked through the outer shell of my evolution and am shaking the shattered pieces of my journey from my wings.  Looking around me, I see where I was, where I am, and wonder, "now what?"

On shaky legs, I step forward not knowing exactly what it is I am doing or what I hope to accomplish by any of it.  Just like that new chick, I am filled with wonder tinged with fear about where it is I'm going from here.

When I was a single chic, pre-marriage and pre-child, I had a fierce confidence and sense of independence.  I was invincible.  If I wanted something, I got it.  Whether it was the job, the promotion, or the man, I got it.  Even near-death experiences didn't stop me from moving on and taking what I wanted from life.

Flash-forward to now, post-Sean's suicide and post-grief, and here I am annoyed at myself for inertia.  Limbo isn't for me.  I smile as I write this because I no longer feel guilty for wanting to break free of the shell that has protected me for so many years.  I am thankful that I had an opportunity to hunker down and heal before leaping back into the world.  I needed time to recover from the trauma of Sean's suicide.  I needed time to focus on the kids and healing our family.  I needed time and I received it.  Thank you, Universe.

But now the time has come to walk away from the shell that holds my comfort zone, my former identity as wife, my grief, my insecurity, my self-sabotaging tactics and guilt.  I no longer need its protection or its containment.  I am finished incubating in muck.

Yes, the shell has broken open and I am standing here enjoying the sun on my face.  I'm scared about taking that leap again, but at least I'm free to fall and free to soar.  There comes a time to walk away from the broken shell of the past, shake off the dust and embrace the new.  This is my time.

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Flying solo

I have been researching an article on travel packages for single parents and a disturbing trend keeps popping up: single parent travel packages that double as dating trips.  What?  Maybe I don't want that extra baggage, thank you very much. 

As a single mom, I travel often with the kids without giving it much thought except for the expense.  For example, when I took the kids to the Dominican Republic a few years ago I had to pay for two adults and one child at the resort, even though my kids at the time were nine and eight.  I understand that the resort makes more money from adults, but as a single parent I felt screwed.  After all, the room was occupied whether I had two adults and two kids or--as it was--one adult and two kids.  I would be happy to pay a fraction of a second adult price added onto mine, but the fact is that two children under the age of ten do not equal an extra adult plus child.

This scenario happens all of the time, not just in the Dominican Republic.  So I started searching for travel packages geared toward single parents for my article and was irked to find that they are either non-existent or revolve around dating.  Family packages (as in two adults/two plus kids)?  Yep.  Scuba diving packages?  Yep.  Single parent travel packages?  Not unless you want to participate in the dating game.  

In a world where the majority of marriages end in divorce and widows/widowers are not uncommon, why is it that society still thinks we need to be paired up like we're boarding Noah's Ark?  

My friend Martha spent this past week in Vegas and called to tell me that she had a new understanding of what it meant to be a single mom.  Although she is not a single parent, her husband was attending classes all day while she and her two children were left on their own.  She decided to take advantage of a discounted show ticket offer by going on an hour excursion to a new resort.  She was denied access to the trip because she was told that she and her two children were not a family and that the discounts were for families only.  

Being Martha (who is quite ballsy--in a good way), she decided to experiment by telling the woman at the kiosk that she was a widowed mom.  Still denied.  She then went to other kiosks with the same story to see what would happen.  She was repeatedly turned away with the explanation that single parent households did not qualify as a family.  

The last time I checked my kids and I are a family.  The definition of family is: 1.) A fundamental social group in society typically consisting of one or two parents and their children. 2.) Two or more people who share goals and values, have long-term commitments to one another, and reside in the same dwelling place

So what am I as a widowed mom to do when I want to travel?  Suck it up and pay the extra costs even though I am living on one income instead of two while stretching it to pay for three people?  Go on a single parent dating trip to appease the status-quo?  For single parents who want to travel with their children, there need to be options that don't penalize us for being single by charging extra costs or that allow us to travel without adding the extra pressure of finding a date.  Ugh.  That sounds exhausting.  

Single parent households are families.  Flying solo, being comfortable alone, is a talent that some people cannot embrace and a skill most of us didn't anticipate acquiring.  I did not ask to be widowed, but that is my reality.  My divorced friends didn't anticipate being divorced when they said "I do", but that is their reality.  Being a single parent doesn't mean that I need to sacrifice exposing my children to the world. 

Have passport, will travel.  With the kids, you ask?  You betcha.  They have passports, too.  
Us arriving in the Dominican Republic after 12 hours of traveling.  It was well worth the journey; then again, isn't the journey what it's all about?  

Friday, June 18, 2010

Thanks to the damn cat

Last night as I chased my cat to toss her outside, a journal popped out from a shelf.  I recognized the cover immediately as a journal I wrote in when I was 25 years old.  I knew the time frame and hesitated.  I wasn't sure I wanted to unlock that particular door.  Cat caught and tossed outside, I looked at the journal awhile before opening it.

The first entry was August 5, 1993, two days after an ex-boyfriend had tried to murder me.  The handwriting is shaky--I was on some serious pain medication at the time.  My jaw had been dislocated, ribs bruised, head injury from a car accident exasperated; but I needed to write, needed to purge the raging emotions in my heart.  I am glad that I did.

I read the journal with the detachment of an anthropologist studying a lost culture.  Curiosity kept me turning the pages when I realized that there are things I have blocked out from that time period.  Maybe I didn't want to remember all of it, but I did write it all down.  I also realized that I never truly dealt with the trauma of being brutally assaulted by a man I had once trusted.

After a lot of physical therapy and doctor care, I rushed back into my life as a 25 year old, anxious to simply be 25.  As a result, I stuffed down a lot of confusion and glossed over a lot of fear.  A lot of life has happened between now and then, but the words I wrote as that 25 year old girl opened a wound I had avoided tending.

I have never forgotten what it's like to have someone slamming my head against a wall.  I have never forgotten the pain of being kicked across a room.  I have never forgotten the look of evil in a man's eyes.  I have never forgotten the feeling of absolute terror.  I have never forgotten the inner strength that kept me alive.

But I had forgotten that he destroyed most of my photo albums from college and high school.  Strangely enough--beginning about 2 years ago--I started looking for them at my parents' house when I visit.  My memory completely blanked out the facts of what had happened to them---until now.  Interesting. I had forgotten that he ripped up most of my clothes.  I had forgotten that my doctors wanted to keep me in physical therapy but I was too stubborn to cooperate.  

Why did I forget these seemingly small details yet remember the most horrific details such as his eyes and the scent of the night?  Why does it matter now?

It matters now because I want to be healthy and healed.  It matters now because I want to embrace my future without old wounds bleeding into it.  I can deal with scars but not open wounds. I am on a precipice of all things wonderful.  My dreams are coming true.  I am happy again.  I see the big picture and it's pretty damn spectacular.

I will not be haunted anymore. I will not be held back by fear.  I will no longer hide.  I don't believe in coincidence.  I have no idea why that journal fell out into the open last night when I was looking for the damn cat.  I do know that the only way to heal is to wade through the muck and come out the other side battered but not broken.

Avoidance never works.  Eventually, whatever it is you're hiding from finds you and bites you in the butt. You're better off turning around, facing it head on and smacking it in the nose.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

The big picture

When I was a kid, I used to ride my horse Tango into the fields and daydream about the fabulous adult life ahead of me.  I would tie Tango up to a tree, lie on the ground and watch clouds pass through a large South Dakota blue sky.  I dreamed I would travel, write stories, fall in love, make friends from all over the world and live a life of adventure.

Those dreams came true.

I have traveled around the world, but have a burning desire to see more, do more, experience more and meet more friends from far away places.  And I will.  I am as sure of that now as I was when I daydreamed beneath that tree.

What I didn't know was that I would fall in love more than once in my life.  As that girl lying beneath the tree, I dreamed of Mr. Right and happily ever after.  I didn't yet understand the heart's capacity for all-consuming love, didn't yet comprehend that there would be more than one Mr. Right, or understand that love comes in many forms. Life enlightened me. I have had three great loves so far on my journey. Each one has been pivotal in shaping who I am and forever changed my heart.  I have no doubt that there will be another big love affair or two in my future.

The girl who used to write stories in spiral-bound notebooks at age nine is now writing stories on a computer at age forty-two.  Articles are just as important to me as my latest manuscript.  After all, I am a writer and I'm happy as long as I'm writing.  I am sure that girl beneath the tree would give me a thumbs up at that.

Tragedy intervenes over the course of a lifetime; but I now see that each tear, each heart-wrenching sob, each moment of desperation has transformed my dreams rather than destroyed them.

Tango passed away when I was in college;  but I remember the feel of his mane beneath my fingertips, the exhilaration of riding him over the plains with my hair flying in my face and the joy of him nudging me with his soft nose when I would lie in the grass daydreaming too long.  I may have moved far from that place, but I am still that girl who rode that horse.

Dreams don't die.  Dreams evolve.  Yes, I have traveled the world, made friends from far away places, loved some unforgettable men, and written some great stories; but I am still that girl who dreamed big dreams...and still does.  The only difference is that now my dreams are even bigger than that blue South Dakota sky.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Just a mom

I am not superwoman.  I am unable to leap tall buildings, although I can jump pretty high if there is a snake or spider in my path.  I am unable to see through steel, although I can eavesdrop with great accuracy.  I am unable to fly, although I am very flexible thanks to Pilates.  I am also unable to be a father when I am a mother.  That last one gets me every time.

When Sean died, I tried to be both mother and father to the kids.  I bought a fishing license even though I cannot stand fishing, bugs or worms and we all went fishing because that's what Sean used to do.  I have always been a guys' girl by being competitive, loving sports and have probably more than my share of testosterone when it comes to a fight.  But I am not a dad.  I am a mom.

My family and I have just passed the 5 year mark of Sean's suicide.  For the very first time, my son unraveled.  He simply fell apart with sorrow.  When I tried to comfort him, he yelled, "I don't want you.  I want my dad."


I would give my kids anything to ease their pain, will fight every battle they need me to fight, will do anything for them; but I cannot give them their father back.  I cannot pick up the phone and ask Sean to get over here to console his son.  I can't even have one all-out-drag-out-no-holding-back fight over his not being here.

So I did what I know how to do as a mom.  I wrapped my arms around Ben even though he cringed away.  I told him that I will be here to have his back forever.  I told him that I understand whatever emotion he is feeling and that it's okay if he wants to lash out at me.  I held him until he stopped crying.  I am a mom.  That's what moms do.

I may not be his father, but I have never missed a lacrosse game.  I may not be his father, but I get--let's say passionate--about hockey.  I may not be his father, but I enjoy watching Mythbusters and The World's Dumbest as much as the next guy.  I may not be his father, but I am pretty sure I can teach him how to shave when that day comes.

I have given up trying to split myself in two. I am who I am.  I am not a dad.  I am a mom.  Because of my female status, Ben is learning patience while his sister and I shop, get pedicures or become overly emotional.  The fact is, Ben has learned many life lessons already at the tender age of 12.  I cannot erase Sean's suicide, but I can be the compassionate compass that guides my children forward.  After all, that's what moms do.