Co-Parenting: My Daughter’s Two Mom(s)

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These are Olivia’s moms. Plural. I’m on the right. Jess is on the left. She met my ex-husband two years after our divorce and now they have a little boy named Luke that my daughter loves more than me. She told me so and I adore her for it. Nothing makes me happier than to hear her voice become nurturing and sweet when she talks to her brother. As moms of siblings, Jess and I are nailing this co-parenting thing. Olivia has recently tried to order another brother or sister and Jess announced that it was my turn, “You’re up, Sister Wife.”

“I’ll pass, thanks.”

Jess has a killer sense of humor and we spend every Christmas morning together making our weird little family work.

She also loves my daughter which makes me love her. She sent me a text several months ago to let me know she was concerned about some of Olivia’s comments surrounding body image and beauty, “She said no one cares about smarts. Not ok.” She immediately changed messaging in their home and asked for advice, “Liv is gorgeous, but she’s also brilliant and hilarious. We need to talk about how smart, clever and funny she is and dad is on board. No more telling her how pretty she is…”

Jess was there for Liv’s school orientation, she’s there for school plays and once she was there dealing with a bully when I was on a business trip. She picked Liv up that day, handled the fallout and was ready to go toe to toe with the parents if needed. The best thing I could have ever hoped for was that my daughter would be surrounded and raised by strong women who want the absolute best for her in life.

This is unusual, I know. It shouldn’t be.

Mutual friends give each of us the heads up when we may run into one another, concerned for a scene or an awkward encounter and we both laugh. Sunday night we ended up in the same suite at TMobile Arena to see the wonder that is NKOTB. Jess immediately gave me a hug when we saw each other, “They warned me you were going to be here and I was like, ‘I like Jeanette! We’re cool!'” Other mutual friends have called me before big events to warn me I’ll run into her and my ex-husband and I immediately announce, “I love Jess.”

When people respond with confusion or say, “I couldn’t do that,” I argue that you can, but you have to get out of your own way. I often remember the advice I was given in the required parenting class I had to take when I filed for divorce, “You have to die to the relationship you had and create a new one. You are in the business of raising a child together. No more who did what.”

You have to forgive the past, shed the hurt and there is no room for jealousy. You also pray the woman on the other side is secure, mature and willing to recognize your role as a parent. She has to be willing to meet you in the same place. Before Jess there were girlfriends who were uncomfortable with my frequent conversations with my ex-husband, our Christmas morning tradition that was created both out of divorce and a joint promise to our child, the photos we would text one another as milestones or memories were achieved. Those who have never had kids don’t realize that the ex doesn’t want your man anymore. She doesn’t show up to insert herself in your relationship or remain on his mind. She just wants him to be a good dad to their child and it takes a secure woman to understand the difference.

There is also a hell of a lot of respect. Jessica makes it clear that I’m mom and what I say always goes. She will always defer to me. I also back her up when Liv is in trouble with her and we both recognize that we need breaks. We all know that we are healthier parents when we have vacations, time to work on our own relationships and interests. It brings us back to the most important person in the equation with a much stronger, healthier mindset.

I always prayed that the woman that would end up in Olivia’s life would love her (almost) as much as I do. It would be the best thing for all of us.

We lucked out.

And Liv lucked out. She has an(other) amazing woman in her life and a baby brother that looks at her as if she herself hangs the stars.

And, if I’m honest… another thing I didn’t expect, but which has been a pleasant surprise?

I love Olivia’s brother too.

Life can be beautiful in all it’s weirdness… as long as you let it.

Co-Parenting: Loving The Women Who Love Your Child

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I blogged anonymously as Little Ms. J for several years. Although I had a nice little following and over 250 articles I decided to take down the site a little over two years ago. It just didn’t feel right.

When  I wrote as Little Ms. J I was a married woman who was coming into her career and wanted very badly to have a baby. I wrote about my fun adventures with my hot husband and our parenting aspirations. I needed to get my time in as a dancing tartlet in high heels with a handsome man by my side before burp rags and cellulite made their appearance. I was sassy, snarky and bold. I was also very naive.

Then I had the baby, I came into my career and got divorced.

The storyline as I knew it ended and I had to figure out how to rewrite the me I knew. So, I dug into who that person was, came up for air and as I started LORE I thought, “Oh, I’ll just go back every now and then and grab an old post off Little Ms. J as a “Throwback,” something fun.

Every single time I’ve gone through the posts I’ve come up short.

I don’t know that girl anymore.

I wince a little in the memories. I smile at others. I look at the precious child I waxed and waned over, both the planning and the pregnancy, and the mom I’ve grown into shakes her head, I was such a baby trying to have a baby. I was such a girl-child trying to be a wife.

As I was looking through posts today I smiled at a few. My then-husband pulled me along to every sort of outdoor sporting event he possibly could while I looked adorable in my tennis skirts and twirled around, “Check out my legs. I look hot. Seriously, how do you hold this racket?”

He laughed at me. A lot. He said things like, “Oh, Little,” which was how “Little Ms. J” came about. I was little. He was big. It worked.

I golfed, I played tennis, I joined a volleyball team, I scaled indoor rock walls, I became SCUBA certified.

I kind of hated it.

Not all of it. Just most of it. I had the harnesses, rock climbing shoes, gear, clubs, fins, you name it, but I’m an introverted type of fit girl. I really don’t want to talk to anyone while I play my sports. I’ll go on a yoga retreat, I’ll listen to my “Damn, Girl” playlist while I do circuit training, gym rat style. I’ll play pickup on a golf range and be blissed out. I will absolutely go diving with you (if the water is warm), but the moment we have to keep a tab, score or compete I am thoroughly annoyed, this is not Zen!

But, I did it all because I was in love and I thought this is what you did. You put on the really adorable gear and showed up with your insanely muscular legs as you flexed them in various positions to annoy your mother in law, is this how you address the ball? I love this skirt. Wicking, huh? Flex. Flex.

I dropped Liv off at her dad’s house recently and took note of the His and Hers tennis rackets on the floor. Girlfriend was likely going to play with Ex’s mom, a former State tennis champion, when they visited her in Tucson that weekend. I laughed inside, his mom is thrilled. I remembered her exasperation, “You have no coordination. I can’t help you,” when she tried to lob a few balls at me years before. I honestly think she’d have rather lobbed rackets at me.

That’s when I’d turn and spin, “No, but seriously. Have you seen my legs?”

Ex laughed. Mom rolled her eyes, “She has no sport!”

He argued that I went to the gym a lot. She sighed and shook her head. At the time I thought these interactions were funny. I just wasn’t like them. I can look back now and see how mismatched I was for him and for them.

They liked to compete in wicking fabrics. I did not.

I text the girlfriend the other day to tell her I was going to be late dropping Liv to them. She was playing tennis.

Today she text back that she was at beach volleyball, but she’d let dad know whatever I was updating her about, thanks!

Yesterday we text back and forth about my daughter’s diet and the search for the perfect smoothie to hide vitamins and nutrients in since she’d rather live on gummy bears and macaroni and cheese.

I smiled, knowing inside that he very well may have found his soulmate. I told him as such. I am thrilled for him and for my daughter.

Me too, if I’m being honest.

They make far more sense than we ever did and for 7000 reasons. Not only is she sporty as hell, but they match up for reasons we never could. They have a similar sense of humor, she’s patient and most importantly, she loves my daughter. All those years I thought we were meant for each other? Well, maybe we were meant to have Liv, but past that? I realize that I was just one person in the way of someone better for him. I actually text him after meeting her, “I like her. Don’t eff it up.”

My daughter still lets me know that she’d discuss an arrangement where dad, girlfriend and I could all live together in a compound sort of environment where she’d also have a trampoline, two dogs and four fish. I just have to say the word. I remind her of how much she loves dad’s girlfriend and she agrees with a sing-song sigh, “Alright. Don’t worry mom. I’ll find someone else that loves you.”

I have to laugh at her sweet, manipulative and earnest little heart.

I ran into Girlfriend after a hot yoga class a few weeks ago. She wanted to make sure Liv was ok with her moving in to their house and I shared that she was, “She loves you.” Liv once told me that she wanted a mom at dad’s house and I told her the story explaining that she just loves being around feminine energy so it makes sense that she’s more settled with the living arrangements. Girlfriend very quickly sided with me, “You are always the mom!” I smiled, appreciative for the unnecessary gesture, “The best thing that could happen for Liv is to be surrounded by women who love her. She will be the most well-adjusted woman.”

Girlfriend looked a little surprised and, in response, I couldn’t help but think about Liv’s earlier offer.

I certainly do hope that when she makes good on her promise to find the guy who loves me he will also come with a really cool Ex.

Like me.

Flex flex.

#grownup

 

 

Be My Valentine: LORE Turns 1

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LORE was launched Valentine’s Day 2015, and I am astounded at how far we’ve come in one short year. Just like my own daughter, who changes every few months, LORE has grown into something I couldn’t imagine when I was scribbling down blog ideas. I realized this has become more than what I’d originally intended when I was recently introduced to another woman. Our mutual friend suddenly looked confused as if she was searching the air for something she couldn’t find, “She has a blog.. It’s not a blog. No, what is it… It feels like more than a blog. It’s a something…”

I smiled from the inside out, It’s definitely a something.

We have become less blog and more a platform for women. I definitely don’t feel like a blogger. I sat back the other day and realized I’ve become a curator. I’m curating pure, unashamed, unfiltered beauty. I am so humbled and grateful that women entrust me with their words and their Love Letters and articles pop into my inbox as I reach out for content. Women tell me they look forward to our weekly offering of raw, unfiltered, woman to woman love.

I haven’t met a mean girl yet.

So, in the vein of Valentine’s Day, and a nod to our signature feature, LOVE LETTERS, I thought I’d write a love letter to those of you who have built LORE.

Dear readers, thank you for your continued emojis, exclamation marks, likes and comments. Your responses and support help me build out content that is meaningful and that I know will resonate each week. Please continue to like us, Tweet us, double tap us on Instagram and share our articles so that we can understand what it is you like to read and how best to keep you engaged. Tell us, too, if you have ideas or suggestions. Without you there is no LORE and I appreciate you from the bottom of my very humbled heart.

Thank you.

Dear contributors, thank you for trusting me with your words. Thank you for opening up, letting people in and sharing the unexpected journey you experience when you have to do a little soul searching, and only because you want your letters to be meaningful. You do the work to keep others from having to, and that in and of itself, is genuine and brilliant. It is such a treat to hear back from you as you receive personal messages from readers who have been touched by your vulnerability. I love your shocked faces, surprised emails and texts. You changed someone’s day. It feels good, doesn’t it?

There is always room for you here.

Because of the collective YOU we will be bringing on more contributing writers, more content, more letters and you will see the look of LORE change to become more easily accessible and with curated content. I’m also toying with the idea of sending out a weekly Love Note in which you will find a link to the article for the week as well as a word or phrase of intent to start your Monday in a lovely frame of mind. Give me your feedback. What would you want to see in a Love Note?

To be honest, I wanted to go fetal when I had to learn basic HTML code to build this thing over a year ago, and yet here I am having meetings with web developers and figuring out 7000 efficiency apps. I’m all in, but I am learning things that are stretching my brain, so you will see small fits and starts as LORE becomes a toddler. At this very moment I’m sitting in a ski lodge with my laptop and what should equate to TECH FOR DUMMIES while my kiddo attends ski school.

Side note: She hates it, so she can’t see me on the mountain or there would be much crying and an avalanche. So, I just link profiles, figure things out, cry a little on the inside and then sneak glimpses of her out the window. Her body language says temper tantrum later.

Pray for me.

As for you?

Big, mushy, loud and glittery thank you. May your Valentine’s Day be filled with love and if you don’t have someone to smooch, please consider me your honorary Valentine.

You ladies are definitely mine.

Xo,

Jeanette

Somewhere Between The 10 & The 1

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I want tomorrow to come like a page in a book that I can’t put down because I have to know what happens next. I’ve always been this way; always wanting more, curious about the sequel, who will be left standing, who will sit out, who who who? My dad said I was in a hurry to grow up. He told me not to wish for time to fly because one day it would be gone, “Enjoy your youth, Catfish. You’ll never have this time again.”

Auld Lang Syne – times old long since

Beautiful lyrics, if you really listen. I stand almost on my tip toes every New Year’s Eve. I can’t wait to count it down. I want to yell, 10, 9, 8… I want my kiss. I want a picture. I want a moment standing on another one because new things are going to happen, don’t you know? Something is going to happen and something else. Maybe I’ll fall in love. Maybe I’ll travel somewhere exotic. Maybe all sorts of magic will happen that I can’t even imagine.

Maybe, maybe, maybe.

I come up with my New Year’s Resolution and assign my friends their own, “Your New Year’s Resolution is to be on time more often. And, you! Yours is to forgive yourself, it is about damn time.” I have to have champagne, we have to toast, you have to tell me what you loved about the year we are leaving behind us because I need to know.

Then we follow the traditions and we sing words that didn’t mean anything to me until recently. On the cusp of a new year the song changed. It isn’t a celebration of what is to come. It is a toast of what has been. All the time I spent jumping up and down and pursing my lips in Auld Lang Syne I didn’t realize that the people singing along to my left and to my right could be gone by the following New Year.

Should auld acquaintance be forgot and never brought to mind?
Should auld acquaintance be forgot and auld lang syne?

I didn’t think of the fragility of life or how I should spend a second between the 10 and the 1 thinking of the souls that have come into my life, taught me, loved me, molded me and then moved on. I didn’t think of how fast time would begin to fly; that time dad told me to treasure because it wouldn’t last as long as I thought it would. I didn’t know so many of my friends would spend the close of the year short one person they loved more than anyone in the world. One person that wouldn’t enter a new year with them. They had no idea when they sang the song together last year. None at all.

I had no idea that I’d celebrate the close of a year short people that were glimmers, whispers and heartbeats earlier in the season, some having left in body, others because it was time.

I couldn’t imagine it as we laughed, glasses in the air.

For auld lang syne dear, for auld lang syne,
We’ll take a cup of kindness, yet
for auld lang syne

I would like to believe they are there, spirits all around, as we look forward. I’d like to believe they are releasing us from grief and wishing us well as we build a new year without them next to us. I’d like to believe those that still walk this earth raise their glasses to our memories as well, thanking us for who we were to them.

And there’s a hand my trusty friend
And give us a hand o’thine!
And we’ll take a right goodwill draught

For Auld Lang Syne

Somewhere between the 10 and the 1.

Happy New Year, lovers. A toast to those who have taught and loved us and glasses up to a beautiful 2016. May it be filled with love and a little bit of magic.