Sun, Sand, and Eva

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This is it. This is my last day here in California before I have to go home and leave her in her father’s care for twenty-eight days.

So much can happen in twenty-eight days.  For a six-year-old kid, that can seem like a lifetime.  Who am I kidding?  For me, a twenty-nine-year old adult, it already feels like I’m going to miss out on years of her life.

Eva and I cried together last night.  She wanted me to find and drive by an apartment like ours at home because she was missing home.  I asked her if she still wanted to try to stay for the full twenty-eight days.  She said yes she did.

The thing that always surprises me about her is her wisdom.  She is so smart in so many ways, but I’m still so impressed every time she has a wise statement pertaining to a difficult situation.  She said to me that the next month is going to be hard on both of us, but it’s like practice for when she is a grown up.  She also told me that she figured out how to get her new two-year-old little sister to listen to her.  She said that if she speaks really quietly to her then she pays attention.

In her mind, this is about her taking care of herself.  This trip is about her trying to strengthen her relationship with her father and his new family.  None of it is about whether her father will be a good dad to her or not.

I guess in a way this is practice.  We will know in a couple weeks whether or not this is a situation that can or should be repeated.  It is good for her to see her father, but if he can’t ensure she is safely, and at least cordially taken care of, then this won’t be something we do again.

I still have every hope that everything will go beautifully.  I think things might even go more smoothly for her once I leave.  The step-mom has thus far been keeping her distance.  Lord only knows what Eva’s father has said to step-mom about me, though.

As I sit here playing in the sand intermittently with Eva, and watch the waves get bigger, I know that no matter how her time in California goes, I am doing my best for her.  Her, my husband, and I are a family, and we will continue to do our best for each other every day.

Here I Sit

Well, this is it.  The daily countdown has reached zero.  The day both anticipated and dreaded greeted me early this morning.

When we woke Eva, she sleepily walked into the living room, looked out the windows with just a passing interest, then stopped dead in her tracks.  She turned and glared at me.

“It’s still night,” she had said grumpily.

Today is the day we fly to California.  That starts a new countdown.  In two, short days I will be leaving her in California with her father while I fly home.  My husband started crying yesterday, and I’m sure tomorrow will be my turn to cry.

Eva has had every emotion at some point this morning.  She was grumpy, nervous, excited, happy, sad, and happy again.  I knew when she turned down chocolate milk and a chocolate-iced doughnut that she was really much more nervous than she was letting on.  If I haven’t taught her anything else, I know I have taught her how to be calm outwardly even when that isn’t even close to how you feel on the inside.  I’m not completely sure that’s a good thing.

My husband dropped us at what I thought was our terminal at the airport.  Once we were inside, I realized I was wrong.  Thus began Eva’s first public transportation adventure.

We only had to make it one stop to the next terminal.  However, Eva wasn’t quick enough and we didn’t make it out the doors before they closed again.  On to the next stop we went.

After a fifteen minute wait in a shady part of the city and a quick ride, we made it to the correct terminal.  Getting through security went very smoothly, and soon we reached our gate.

Now, here I sit, watching Eva recruit the children around her and organize a game of hide and seek Kitty (her favorite stuffed animal).  They are laughing and happy and carefree as we all wait for the announcement to board the plane.

These children are obviously from many different backgrounds and of varying ages, and each happy as can be to have each other for some ennoyment as we all wait.

It is ten minutes past the time we should have been in the air flying far, far away.  They just announced that there is a problem with our plane and that either this one will be fixed soon or we’ll be getting a new plane.  That doesn’t really instill the confidence it should.

They now moved us to a new gate.  We stole someone else’s plane!  The poor people were already loaded and ready to go.  I feel like we’ve been declared more important for some reason.

So, here I sit.  Again.

From The Mouths of Babes

Driving anywhere with Eva is usually entertaining, but some days things take an unexpected turn.  Today is one of those days.

“Kyle at school thinks balls is a bad word,” Eva said.

After a bit of silence, I responded with a noncommittal, “oh?”

“Why does he think balls is a bad word?”

Deep breath, Mindy. I feel the need to Google instructions on explaining this one without giving an anatomy lesson.  But I can’t, because I’m driving.  Instead,  I luckily have an ah ha moment.

“Balls can be a bad word depending on how it is used,” I said.  “As long as you use it when referring to the balls you play with,” mentally kicking myself, “like in a game, on the playground.” 

That was almost horrible.  I know her well enough to know that any explanation I give her will be repeated at school, at church, and maybe to Grandma, too.  I make an effort to contain my giggle as I imagine her having this conversation with Grandma.

I’m finally out of the woods with this conversation.  Thank God.

“Well, momma, in Frozen she says a ball with no balls,” Eva comes back.  “Kyle said so.”

Cringe.  Back into the forest I go.

At this point we have just pulled in to our destination.  I pull out my phone and talk to Google.

“Okay, Google, Frozen a ball with no balls.”

Apparently, Google had been through this before because the very first thing on the results page is the actual quote from Frozen, “A ballroom with no balls”.  I relay this to Eva.

“I’ll have to tell Kyle when I see him again.”

Another sigh.

My Heart Flutters

As Eva and my husband were playing together earlier, I felt content and happy.   Each laugh made my chest tighten with affection.  These moments of happiness are what I live for every day. 

My husband was pretending that he didn’t know who she was, and she responded, “It’s me, Eva,” through her giggles.  He continued this game a little bit longer, and Eva said something that made my heart flutter for a moment.

We are about thirty-six hours away from our flight to California where Eva will spend a month away from us with her father.  Her father is all she has been talking about for days now in anticipation of seeing him.

In this moment of play with her favorite step-father (step-Bubba, as she says), through her giggling and words she still found a way to to remind me for a moment how much she loves her life here. 

It’s sad to admit, but I have been feeling insecure that maybe she will decide she likes her father’s house more than she likes it here, with me.  I don’t want her to dislike her father’s house, but i most definitely want her to always want to come back to me.

As he asked her again who she was, her answer this time changed.  She said, “It’s me, your kid”.

My heart fluttered.  She is our kid, and I’m luckier than words can express to have her.  That she so freely claims my husband as her Bubba, makes my heart swell with happiness and pride in both of them.

She repeated this several more times, and it was music to my ears each time.  This is what I want for my daughter.  I want her to feel loved, reasonably happy, and for her to have a sense of family and belonging. 

We are hers and she is ours.  What more could I ask for?

Predictable? Not My Body

Today is cycle day twenty of my unassisted cycle.  Day twenty, and still no positive on the ovulation predictor pee stick.  No LH surge.  Nothing.

Still keeping my fingers crossed that maybe it will happen tomorrow.

Is It Friday yet?

My work weeks are Monday through Sunday. So here I sit at the end of another long work week, and I’m trying not to complain, but I’m tired. 

This week was another 47-point-something hour work week.  I know there are millions of people who would love to have a job, period.  So my whining about not only having a job but working over forty hours for the third week in a row seems petty, or selfish.  Maybe I need to expand my world view a bit and it would make me more appreciative for overtime.

Despite feeling guilty about being tired of being at work, I can’t seem to stop feeling my feelings.  I’m a little concerned that my new work hours and the unpredictability of it all is going to ruin my hard work concerning my healthy lifestyle changes. 

Today, for example, I went in at 7 o’clock this morning, prepared to work a little over eight hours.  Forty-five minutes in to my shift, it was clear that my relief would not be arriving as scheduled at three.  By 10 o’clock I knew my day would now be a sixteen hour day, with a short eight hour reprieve before I have to go back in to do it all over again.

This resulted in a late night stop at Taco Bell on my way home for some form of dinner.  I had juiced enough juice for breakfast and lunch, that was it.  By the time 11 o’clock rolled around, I was starving.  Now I feel the need to go run off my Taco Bell dinner, but I have to be awake in five short hours from now to get ready for work.  Going for a run is just too much at this hour.

That leads me to another concern.  All of this back and forth in my sleeping pattern has me worried that my infertility issues will never resolve naturally.  If I can’t stick to a consistent sleep cycle, how will my body ever retrain itself to cycle consistently?

Am I like that old wives tale about digging on the right phase of the moon?  You know, the one about digging on the new moon means you won’t have enough dirt to fill the hole.  Digging on a full moon will result in too much dirt and the hole will be a mound when you fill it.  Or maybe I have that reversed.  Or maybe it’s something about a quarter moon….ugh, I give up.

My point is, I feel like I’m sending mixed signals to my body.  Like maybe all these crazy, random hours (I worked two overnight shifts last week which meant I was awake for twenty-eight hours straight two different times in one week) are like random lunar eclipses to my body.  I’m almost to the end of the first independent, non-drug-induced cycle I have had in a very, very long time. And according to my ovulation prediction kit, I haven’t ovulated.  Is that because I really never will ovulate again, or is it because my body is stressed and confused?

I know better than to think I will be getting a clear answer to that question.

Friday is my next day off.  Friday is also the day before I load myself and my precious girl onto a plane bound for California, where even more stress awaits me.

I think it’s going to be a long week.

The Fashionista Strikes Again

Well, she did it again.  My daughter wore another very original, very unique outfit to school today.

Pictures should have been taken as blackmail for her teenage years.  My husband is currently sighing in annoyance as I write this, because he doesn’t understand what was wrong with her outfit. 

“It was all black,” he said.  So, to him, this means it was a matching outfit.  What was the problem?

Twinkle Toes (some light up shoes by Sketchers we found on sale), a black tutu-ish skirt, and a black t-shirt (a size too big) with a wolf on the front was her ensemble for the day.  When I arrived at Grandpa’s to pick her up after work, the Twinkle Toes had been traded in for her standard play shoes–brown and green camouflaged boots.

I’m just annoyed I didn’t think to take a picture of this lovely fashion statement. 

If she ever reads this, I do hope she realizes how much I love these moments that create lasting memories.

I’m Not A Morning Person

Every morning when my daughter wakes up, she cheerily declares how many days left until she leaves.  Every morning as the number gets smaller and smaller, my heart hurts a little more.  We are down to nine days before she leaves me for a month.  A month, four weeks, is such a long time to my mommy-heart.  My baby (I know, she is six and would roll her eyes if she heard me calling her my baby) has never been away from me for more than seven days, and those were the longest seven days of my life.  I was on my honeymoon for those seven days and my husband and I both cried on days three and five because we missed her so much.

Every morning as she gives me an update on the countdown, my panic renews.  She has a new step-sister at her father’s, and she can’t wait to be the big sister.  While visions of playing dance through her mind, visions of her new step-sister getting preferential treatment dance through my head.  While she daydreams about swimming and playing in the sand at the beach with her father, I envision her father’s back turned as she swims unsupervised and all the awful consequences.

Am I being a bit melodramatic?  Possibly, but try telling that to my heart.

Her father’s new wife is also six months pregnant.  Another jab to the heart as I continue to pee on ovulation prediction strips (that have yet to be positive) every morning and pray this cycle will finally be THE cycle.  I couldn’t possibly love Eva more than I already do, but there is this thought that I have that makes it sound like I don’t want her to exist.  The thought of, “Why couldn’t my infertility have happened while I was married to him instead of now, married to my good husband?”  I feel like my one, good egg was fertilized by the wrong sperm.  If I could still have Eva just as she is, but have the other half of her gene pool excised and replaced with my husband’s, that’d be great.

Ridiculous doesn’t cover it, I know.

Every morning, as she gives me a kiss before she is off to summer school or I’m off to work, I remind myself that she is the one good thing to come out of all the bad.  The other half of her gene pool doesn’t matter even if it means I have to ship her to California every summer until she is eighteen, the other half is still half of her, and all of her is perfect.  I wouldn’t want a single thing about her or her personality to change, no matter what it would mean.

In just a couple weeks, every morning I wake up it will be just me and my husband.  My heart hurts and tears sting my eyes at that thought.  He and I will be a little lost without her.  All I can hope for is some overtime while she is gone to help keep my mind occupied.

I requested an extra day off for the trip to take her to California.  I figured I would need it when I came home as a day that I get to sit and cry and wallow in my self-pity for a moment so that hopefully I can lock it away the rest of the four weeks she is gone.

Still, I can’t help but think about all the parents out there that have to send their child to a different state for eight weeks out of every summer, and every other spring break, and every other Christmas break.  Does it get easier?  Is it this hard because it is the first time?  Eventually, I’m sure there will be an argument between her father and I as he tries to push for her to come out there for longer periods of time and more often.  How can that much upheaval in a child’s life be beneficial, though?

Every morning I wake up, I say a prayer for her that God will watch over her while she is away.  Maybe I should start including myself in that prayer.  One of my best friends has a credit card on standby should I need to fly out there unexpectedly to bring her home early if things aren’t going well.  I also pray that I won’t need that credit card.  I pray for her to get the love and attention she deserves.  I pray that she is treated well, and that she has a wonderful time.  Even if it means I have to share her more in the future, I really do just want her happy.  I want her to feel like she has wonderful people in her life that love her, not that her mother is great and her father is awful, or, my worst nightmare, that her father is great and her mother is awful.

Maybe I should try sleeping until noon, then maybe my mornings will be greatly improved.

My Daughter, The Fashionista

My beautiful, intelligent, kind-hearted, six-year old daughter loves to look nice. 

Well, who doesn’t? 

The problem is that her version of “looking nice” has a much broader definition than I would have ever guessed. 

The other problem is that I’m already at work by the time she is getting ready for the day.  That leaves her with my husband as her sole fashion advisor.  He is the type of person that just doesn’t get it when I tell him that camouflage and plaid don’t go together.  Everything goes with everything, is his school of thought.  Camouflage especially goes with everything for any and all occasions. 

So, why don’t I set clothes out for my daughter to eliminate any risk of my daughter going to school looking like she doesn’t have a mother?  Well, first of all, I do sometimes lay out clothes for her the night before.  Secondly, unless I happen to remember to do this while she is still awake and can participate in the selection process, she tends to edit my choices.  Thirdly, I have a horrible memory. 

Today, I picked her up from my father who had picked her up from school.  She was wearing a brand new summer dress we purchased second hand recently.  It is pretty adorable on her.  Unfortunately, she was wearing it backwards. 

It was obviously backwards, too.  There is a bow and a ruffle that is on the front that clearly makes it appear to be the front.  And it was clearly not in the front today. AND she made it past the two main men in her life without either noticing. 

Not so horrible on its own, I know.  The other item of clothing she chose to wear with her backwards dress is her denim, knee-length skirt.  Also recently purchased second hand.  This was hanging about two inches below the hem of the summer dress, and being the end of the day, it was on sideways.  To top the ensemble off, she wore her brand new tennis shoes we purchased for running together.

When I noticed these things I smiled, hugged her, shook my head and laughed.  She is just too adorable even when she is wearing her clothes backwards and sideways.  I mentioned to her the dress was backwards once we got home.  

Her response was, “Are we going anywhere or having company?”

I shook my head no, and off she went to her room.  She soon returned wearing her underwear only.  She hit the lever on the recliner extending the foot rest, climbed on to the recliner, leaned back and sighed a happy, contented sigh. 

What else could I do but join her in that happy contentment?

I wouldn’t trade moments like these for anything in the world.