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

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

On the Outside Looking In #SingleParenting


Single moms aren't the enemy--and, this may be a shocker, we're also not interested in stealing your overweight, balding, middle-aged slug you call your husband.

On Monday night, I sat with my son at an awards' banquet. He and I sat at the back table--I always like to be close to the exit--and his friend's family sat with us. Small talk commenced at the table, as usual, but other than that I kept to myself. As the ceremony started, a man tapped me on the shoulder and asked if he could sit at the empty chair next to mine. He'd come late and his family sat in front, but had neglected to save him a seat. I, of course, told him he could sit there. 

That's when the trouble began--oh, the glares--downright hateful in nature--came my way followed by whispers and people turning their heads to, you guessed it, glare in my direction. I chatted with the man next to me while we were served our three-course meal. Later in the bathroom, one of the women who had been glaring at me, confronted me saying, "I know his wife." Etc. I won't repeat her whole diatribe. I walked away. 

Seriously? I can't chat with a guy who I have known for 14 years without the gossips assuming I am flirting? His son and mine were best buddies throughout preschool and elementary school. They used to call themselves "brothers from another mother." Oh, but now that I'm making small talk at an awards' banquet I'm a whore? Why would this be? Oh, yeah, because I'm a single parent so MUST be out trolling at an awards' banquet.

C'mon, people, stop being assholes. 

For ten years, I've been the solo parent in the house--the only adult here to manage bills, household repairs, run the kids to their various sporting events, help them with their homework, read them to sleep, teach them about life's losses and joys, keep them clothed and fed, wiped their tears and celebrated their accomplishments, chopped down trees and figured out how to run a chainsaw, and dealt with snotty people who thought me saying, "I'm a widow" in response to being overwhelmed times (but still getting it all done) was some sort of "cop out". Guess what? Stating that I'm a single mom is NOT a cop out...it's a fact. Here I am keeping the lights on while stretching both the budget and the time--solo. Twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week--all me. And I have done it all while building not one, but two businesses. 

And you think you know me? You don't. 

You don't know how many nights I have cried myself to sleep from being overwhelmed and lonely. You don't know how the knowledge that I used to have all of you as friends but you vanished when my husband died has impacted my trust of others. Or maybe you vanished because I wasn't as "fun" as I used to be--who the hell knows? I don't. You don't know that I still love my husband even after all this time because I loved him the day he died and I see him in my kids' eyes. You don't know that I miss having girlfriends. You don't know that I don't date because every man (single, by the way) I attempted to know has called my kids "baggage"so I gave up because I choose being a mom over being a girlfriend. You don't know how I've crumbled to the floor in despair over not being able to pay all my bills and wondered how I'd survive. You don't know that I remember every broken promise you all ever made to me or my children. You don't know that, yes, I am angry at being abandoned, but not by my husband, by all of you who said you'd be there for me and weren't. You don't know how I look at my kids on awards' night and am amazed that we've not only "managed", we've excelled as a threesome. 

You don't know. 

So the next time you're judging a single mom for talking to a man and decide to whisper lies and assumptions--shut up. Perhaps go up to the woman--someone you used to call 'friend' before tragedy intervened--and say a simple "hello, how are you?" Because you don't really know, do you? 

Melissa Rivers recently did an interview saying how Joan had always been on the outside looking in, never invited to the parties (that were usually couples only), and carried the stain of her husband's suicide with her to the very end. Always excluded. Always lonely. Always judged despite being a smart businesswoman, funny lady, and charitable soul. 

So I know this isn't "just me." It happens to many of us--whether divorced or widowed, male or female--the single parenting road is hard and it isn't something we have chosen, but it's something we do. Yes, some do it better than others, but the driving force for all of us is love. 

Have I gone out whoring to find a man to take care of me? Obviously not. I've taken care of myself and my kids and am deserving of respect, not glares. So why the assumption that I'd be flirting with some married guy I've known for 14 years at an awards' banquet with my son sitting next to me and his wife two tables up? It's insulting! If anyone has a "morality problem" in this scenario, it sure as hell isn't me. 

I do feel like I am pressed against the glass, staring at a life I used to know while being excluded from all the festivities because I lack a certain "accessory", and wondering where is the compassion? Where is the benefit of the doubt, the kindness? Why must women be the first to tear down one of their own and choose to believe the worst rather than discover the truth?  

The truth is that I'm pretty damn spectacular and you've all missed out on this journey. Do you know where I traveled last month and the amazing people I met? Do you know where I'm going next week?  Do you know how kind and wonderful my children--now a young woman and young man--have become? No, you don't. That's too bad--for you. Maybe you could have learned something because, one day, you may be in my shoes on the outside looking in and wondering what the hell happened.  

Amber Lea Easton is a multi-published author of romantic thrillers, contemporary romance, women's fiction, and nonfiction. In addition, she is a professional editor and mother of two extraordinary human beings. She currently lives in a small cabin high in the Rocky Mountains where she is completely aware of how lucky she is. To find out more about her books, please visit http://www.amberleaeaston.com

Thursday, May 7, 2015

Love and Death and the Hardening of My Heart #grief #life

I'm tired of goodbyes.

My dog died this past Monday, May 4--he'd been with me for nearly 12 years. He'd been the object of more than one show-and-tell at the kids' elementary schools, had chased deer into the middle of a highway in a thunderstorm, acted as the practice goalie for my son in front of the soccer net in our yard, stood guard over me every night, traveled with us as we tacked on the mileage of my 13 year old SUV, herded the kids when I needed a helping hand getting them to bed, cuddled with me every time I've been sad. I called him my co-pilot because he was a truer friend to me than any human being I've ever known.

One more ending to sort out in my mind.

May is a hard month for me. On May 2, I remembered being at a play ten years ago where my first grader son dressed up like a bee. We were still a family of four then. Sean had looked so damn handsome in his blue button-down shirt, tan, and blond hair. He'd come home early to make sure he'd be ready for the play. People even stopped us to tell us what a good looking family we were--and that night I knew they meant it. No, not because I was vain, but because I felt it down deep.

But I was so blind--how could I have been so out of touch with someone I loved? What didn't I see behind his smile?

May 2nd--the same night of the play--was the date scrawled on top of the first note I found after his suicide that said over and over again--I am so sad, I am so sad, I am so sad. 

That is all he'd written. Those words and the date. The impact hit me like a hammer to the head.
My hands had shaken when I'd read those words while my mind raced about what I hadn't seen.
There I'd been smiling, holding his hand, beaming at my son the bumble bee while my daughter hung out on daddy's lap. Oblivious.

Now May 4th will be added to my list of dates to remember--Dusty dying in the wee hours of the morning after I had stroked his speckled fur and told him how sorry I was he had to get sick and how he was my best bud.

I'm tired of death. I understand that there are things in the Universe that are beyond my control, but I'm worn out from it all. I've had too much death in ten years--my husband, my good friend Lisa, my grandma, my grandpa, Taz, and now Dusty. So many goodbyes. Too many tears.

In a few weeks, we will cross the ten year anniversary of Sean's suicide. Yes, I've done very well and come so very far. My kids are amazing human beings who I'm proud to know.

But there have been so many goodbyes. My heart feels hollow.

Friends who I thought were true have disappeared when I expressed how I honestly felt over something or did something besides plaster on the smile. Poof! I once read a meme somewhere about true friends not caring if you're a bitch one day, if your house is a mess, if you lose all your money, if you're sick, if you gain weight...and it struck a chord. Authentic (human) friends are as rare as unicorns.

Family I thought would never betray me, have.

Pets who were part of my life with Sean as we started a family together--Taz the yellow lab was our first puppy who arrived here when our son was still in diapers and now Dusty who blessed our lives a few years later--they were links to that life, that American dream I had for awhile. Gone. I miss them the most--their unwavering loyalty, their snuggles, their humor, and their love.

I don't like May. Too many memories--all of them filled with questions.

Tonight I think of Dusty, my dog who died two days ago, and hope he knew how much I loved him. I reach my foot out for him beneath my desk and only find his empty dog bed. I double-check before I stand because I've been so used to tripping over him--he was constantly by my side. Did he know I loved him? Did he know how grateful I was for his constant companionship? 

Another goodbye. Another absence to accept.

I'm approaching a decade of being a widow. That seems like a long time to me and, believe me, I put a lot of pressure on myself to persevere. After all, I'm a solo parent--persevering is what we do best. But two weeks ago I sat in LAX during a layover between flights when a man set next to me--very well-dressed and handsome--and started talking. Out of the blue he announces that he is a widower, that he has been for seventeen years, and has only just now started dating again. We talked like old friends wrapped in the buzz of a busy airport about how being widowed is drastically different than being divorced. It seems that only those of us who have walked this particular path understand how deeply we've been wounded and it takes someone special to know how to walk with us.

I feel my heart hardening.

With all of my goodbyes, I always wonder one thing--did they know how much I loved them? Because I wouldn't be thinking of any of them now if I hadn't. Did Sean know how deeply I loved him and how proud I was to be his wife? Did Dusty know that he was much more than a dog to me?

Love is a complicated emotion--to give love we must open our hearts, but when we do, we become vulnerable to being hurt in the most soul-crushing ways.

So many goodbyes...

Perhaps I'm rambling in this post--I apologize. My mind is foggy with grief both present and past as I sort out what it means to love and to lose. I suppose the main question I need to answer is: do I regret any of the love I've given?

No.

I only regret that I didn't or couldn't love more.