Tag Archives: divorce

Life is good

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Life is good, folks.

Still counting down to 50.

42. I was downstairs talking to a now-former neighbor about a month ago, telling her about my pending move to a condo a little up the street. I’d been in the apartment above hers for seven years, and she and her extended family had just moved in within the last year.

My excitement about the new place was evident, and I’d invited her to stop in some time and sit out on my deck. Then she said something that caught me completely off-guard.

“Molly, I’m so envious of you. You really have it all together.”

Tears welled in my eyes almost instantly. I was touched by her honesty, but also by the fact that since my divorce 15 years prior, I’d hardly lived the life anyone would envy.

“It’s been a long time coming, that’s for sure,” I told her. “It hasn’t been easy.”

We talked a little more, then I retreated to my apartment and continued packing.

50 for molly3I’ve thought a lot about that conversation since. This woman isn’t much older than me, but lives with her 30-year-old son, his girlfriend and their two small children. The younger woman is expecting a third child in the fall. In the six or so months I’ve known them, the three adults have been in various stages of employment, sharing one car. I’ve given rides and been asked for small “loans” I know will never be repaid. They struggle, but they’re decent people (aside from the constant pot smoking by the son – which is only annoying because the smell is rank and filtered into my apartment).

I think that conversation best illustrates why I’m so looking forward to 50.

Life is good.

I’ve always tried to be positive and enjoy the life I have – no matter what the situation was at the time. But in the 15 years since my divorce, it’s been tough. I’ve filed for bankruptcy twice – the first time because my soon-to-be-ex-husband was going to file and my attorney said it would be in my best interest, the second because a new bank had taken over my mortgage and was threatening an impossible refinance and I had to walk away.

For the first 10 years post-divorce, the kids and I lived on what I made, day-to-day. No credit cards to help in a pinch, if we didn’t have the money we didn’t get whatever was wanted. It meant the kids were on reduced-price lunches for a couple years in elementary school. It meant our gas was shut off one summer because I fell behind in the payments – then earned a real estate commission check big enough to catch up, just in time for fall. It meant being upside-down in cars I didn’t like because my credit score was horrible and I allowed myself to be bullied by a salesperson who convinced me “this is the only car you qualify for.”

It meant we didn’t do vacations, seldom went out to eat or to the movies. New clothes were a luxury saved mostly for back-to-school, holidays and special occasions.

But it was still good. I said – often – that I loved my 40s, it was the best decade ever. And, really, it was. I had great people in my life, and things always seemed to work out – mostly because of the great people I had in my life. We were never homeless, there was always food to eat, my relationship with my kids has always been strong.

For the last three or four years, though, things have slowly started turning around. Life was still good, but life was getting good, too. My credit score was improving and I was able to get a credit card. My daughter and I went on a Colorado vacation with my then-boyfriend and some of his family. I could go out with friends more.

In the last year, things have really turned around. I was able to get rid of the car I didn’t like and get the car I really wanted. I went on vacation to Phoenix to visit a cousin/friend. I’ve realized what I really want in a relationship and have stopped accepting less – which led to my telling a man who’s been in and out of my life for several years how I really felt about him (it didn’t end like it does in the movies – sigh).

And now the move. I have my first “me” place, a grown-up apartment/condo with all of the amenities I’d want.

This is why I’m looking forward to my 50s. I’m a more grounded “me” than I’ve ever been, and I’m excited to see where it goes.

Life is good.

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A week at the Beach — South Beach, that is

Pour Me Some Whine has returned to its not-so-regularly scheduled appearance. Sorry for the absence …

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It took me a while to become convinced that I needed to try the South Beach diet.

Friends had used it and had much success. They touted its benefits and even talked about how much they liked it.

“Liked it?” I can hear your thoughts from here. “Really? They liked it?”

That’s what I thought too. It’s a diet, after all – what is there to like? How could you possibly like something that restricts your foods in both quality and quantity, no matter what the end result could be? And South Beach? The one that says no breads or starches, no sugar and no fruits for the first two weeks? Really?

This photo, taken in early October 2010, spurred my motivation to start the South Beach diet. That's me on the left, in the short-sleeved green shirt.

Really.

I’ve been on the South Beach diet for a week now and, I have to say, it’s not too bad at all.

In fact, I kind of like it.

To back up a bit, I’ve been slowly gaining weight over the last three years or so. When I was divorced in 2002 I lost a LOT of weight – about 115 pounds – and dropped to a size smaller than I was even in college. I loved it, although some people (read: my Mom) thought maybe I was too thin. (There’s something I’ve never said before or since.)

I managed to maintain that weight and size for about five years – mostly because, I think, I was dating a man who smoked and, having always loved the smell, I started smoking again. I continued smoking for about a year after the relationship ended, then I quit – cold turkey.

Having quit smoking before, about 14 years earlier, I knew what could happen with my weight. I was determined that this time it wouldn’t happen, I would be careful because I was aware.

But it happened anyway.

I never denied that I was gaining weight, I think I was just unaware of how it looked. Then the picture above was taken recently at a friend’s birthday party. I knew I needed to get serious. (I do have to say that part of it depends on the photo – the one I use for my Facebook profile was taken exactly four weeks earlier, and I’ve maintained the same weight since February.)

Enter South Beach.

My friend and cousin Cara had recommended the South Beach diet a few times after having to listen to me whine about my weight for weeks. She did it a few years ago, loved it and has managed to keep the weight off.

“Eh,” I thought. “Maybe.”

Then came the before-mentioned photo. I couldn’t get to Barnes & Noble fast enough to get a copy of the South Beach book.

Of course, pessimist that I am, I skipped straight to the “Foods to Avoid During Phase I” page. All alcohol, all baked goods, all fruits (Fruits? Aren’t they supposed to be good for you? Oh, yeah – that natural sugar thing …) and fruit juices. Even some vegetables, like carrots, green peas and all potatoes, are on the list of things to stay away from during Phase I.

Then I looked at the “Foods to Enjoy” section – all six pages of it. I couldn’t believe it. White meat poultry, lean cuts of beef and pork, all the vegetables (except the banned ones) my heart desires – with a minimum of 2 cups at both lunch and dinner. It doesn’t really feel like much of a diet.

One week – and one weekend – down and I’m feeling pretty good. Have I lost weight? I don’t know, I banished the scale from my house years ago. But I feel good, I’m not starving and I can really see this as something that will last beyond the time it takes to get to my goal (two sizes by Christmas, for those wondering).

Pour Me Some Whine won’t become a diet journal – but there will be occasional updates … 🙂

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Kids and dating

A man recently asked me what my kids would do if he were to show up at my house sometime.

I was floored. We’d been talking for a few weeks and hadn’t yet actually met in person, and he was already thinking of meeting my kids.

Hold on, buster. Not so fast.

I’ve been divorced for seven years, and have dated some, not a lot. Of the handful of men I’ve dated, my kids — now teenagers — have met just one, and that was two months into the relationship.

I don’t know what the rules are for meeting kids, or how the kids will react. What I do know, though, is that I have absolutely no idea what it must be like seeing your parents date.

Apparently I’m not alone. Take a look online and find plenty of columns, like this one, aimed at helping parents get their kids prepared.

I’m from the generation that was beginning to see the swing of divorce come into acceptance. While I was one of the lucky ones — my parents just celebrated their 43rd anniversary — many of my friends’ parents were divorced. Even then, though, I don’t recall any of them dating.

So what is appropriate? Do you introduce someone you’re just dating to your kids, or do you wait until it’s developed into some semblance of a relationship?

For me, I’ll wait until it’s something worth bringing them into.

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It’s a name game

Some time ago I was scolded by another divorced mom when she heard me call myself a “single mother.”

“But I am a single mother, I’m no longer married,” I argued.

“But you were at one time. ‘Single mother’ implies that you never were,” she maintained.

Humph.

To me, “single” doesn’t mean “never married,” it just means that at this particular time, I’m single. She didn’t like the negative stereotypes that she said follow the title, “single mom.”

Is there a difference? Does one automatically assume, if I say I’m a single mom, that I’ve never been married?

This conversation took place a few years ago and every now and then it pops back into my memory and makes me wonder. I personally don’t like the way “divorced mom” sounds — I think it sounds much more negative than “single mom.” There’s got to be something better.

Car dealers have the market on altering a name to make the same product sound better. Who wants to buy a used car when you can have a “program vehicle” or get one that is “certified pre-owned?” It’s the same thing — someone else had the vehicle for a certain amount of time and traded it in for something different.

Hmmm. How does “Program Mom” sound? Or “Certified Been-There?”

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Love and anguish in our 40s

cosmoOnce upon a time I wrote a blog entry for a now-expired feature we did at The Gazette called “On the Street.” I went to the opening of the movie, “Sex and the City,” asked some question and then wrote a blog about my own dating experiences, now that I’m 40-something and divorced and “back out there.”

The blog stirred something in me — I wanted to do more writing along the same lines. There wasn’t much interest at work, so I’m doing it on my own, starting with the one that got me started. So welcome to Pour Me Some Whine — read, reflect and feel free to add your own stories.

This is the blog I wrote May 30, 2008, for The Gazette:

 

I first started watching “Sex and the City” when it premiered in 1998 and it was a fantasy to me. I was married, had two small children and lived in west central Iowa. What did I know about Manolo Blahniks, living the high life in New York City or drinking Cosmopolitans until dawn?

Then in 2002 I found myself 36, divorced and living in Eastern Iowa. Hello, Dating World.

Ugh.

I turned to my virtual friends – Carrie, Samantha, Miranda and Charlotte – for tips and advice. After all, look at all the fun relationships they had: Carrie and Big, Carrie and Aiden, Miranda and Steve, Charlotte and Harry, Samantha and … everyone. I quickly learned, though, that dating as a never-married 30-something in New York wasn’t anything like being a divorced 30-something (and now 40-ish) woman in Iowa. And dating as a 30-something-turned-40-ish woman in Iowa is absolutely nothing like dating as a college co-ed, no matter where you are.

Much like anything else in life, dating in your 30s and 40s is a learn-as-you-go process. What attracted me at age 18 doesn’t hold much appeal to me now: “having a stable job” has replaced “earns enough money to buy gas;” “enjoys a quiet night at home” has earned top spot over “likes to go out and party;” and “must get along with my kids” has taken the place of … well, nothing, because it just wasn’t an issue when I was 18.

You also learn what you are and aren’t willing to put up with. I never would have thought that having someone sing “I love you” karaoke to me on our second date – and tell me he meant every word – would be as disconcerting as it was, or that having someone brutally mispronounce a word several times in one conversation would be unbelievably annoying.

At one point in my new dating realm I actually created a list of “rules” – ones that I wouldn’t share, but would tuck away in the back of my head for future reference: thou shalt not ask me to a movie and then pretend to have forgotten your credit card when we get to the theater; thou shalt not say “I’d like to do this again” when in fact you wouldn’t; thou shalt not whine at me on the telephone before we actually “go out;” thou shalt not keep me waiting for you to get off work when you forgot to ask if you could leave early; and the ever-popular “thou shalt not lie to me about wanting to date other women when in fact you already have.”

Many of the challenges we face dating in our 40s are just the “grown-up” versions of the same challenges we had when we were younger. Some people still cheat, many still want to be with Barbie or Ken and no matter how hard we try to hide it, there is still a part of all of us that feels that bit of insecurity when it comes to meeting someone new.

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