I've Been Thinking...

So, it's been a really, REALLY long time since my last post. Wow. I'm so sorry you guys!

All I can say is that life as a single, full-time working mom with two growing, busy kids was much busier than I imagined. The "down time" I did have went by in a heartbeat and was better spent trying to keep up with things at home (like laundry...oh my god the laundry), spending time with my babies, treasured friends & family, and trying to get in a little exercise and time in nature. Nonetheless, my soul still longed to write and this blog was never far from my mind.

Things have changed a bit since my last post. Which I guess isn't all that surprising considering that my last post was, like, five years ago.  (Eek. Again, sorry!)

First things first! The Super Kids. They are amazing. As in straight-up ah-MAY-zing!

Super Boy is more like Super Man-Child now, as he swiftly approaches the age of 15 with his deep voice, taller-than-mom height, and all of his facial hair, leg hair and emerging MAN-ness. He is still the same sweet, easy, laid back, super intelligent, multi-talented, artistic, funny kid he's always been, but just so much MORE of all of it. I adore him. This kid has more soul, more character, more intellect than most adults I know. He's always been an old soul, and I see it more and more as he grows up. I love the closeness he and I still have, and the greater depths our relationship grows to as he gets older and sees the world through more mature eyes. He's a communicator, like me, so we can sit and talk for hours about all kinds of things and that is the greatest gift I could ever ask for as a mom. I savor every moment I have with him because he's at an age where he's spending more time with friends (and girlfriends) than ever before, which is totally normal, but I know that in three short years he will be graduating from high school and then.... and then? He will no doubt go to college, but the question is: WHERE? The mom in me wants to keep him close, have him go somewhere in southern Wisconsin, within two hours' drive so we aren't separated by too much distance. The woman who was chosen to bring this child forth into the world, however, sees what an amazing mind and heart and spirit exists in him and wants him to spread his wings and go as far as he dares, on a journey of his own making, knowing that I will always be HOME to him and that he will return when he needs to be HOME. I am so excited for him, and so proud of the man he is growing into. He's always been an exceptional human being, but to see him grow and evolve and become so HIM makes my heart swell with genuine affection and appreciation of all that he is.

Super Girl is almost seven going on 17! She was still just a wee toddler at last post; now she is tall, willowy, long-haired and lovely, with a razor-sharp mind, enormous and tender heart, silly sense of humor, whimsical artistic ability, beautiful voice, fearless spirit, sassy mouth and stubborn mind and heart. That thing my mom always used to say when I was young - "I hope you have a daughter just like you!" - spoken in moments of exasperation with my strong-willed self? Yeah, well, that TOTALLY came true. This child is ALL me. BUT we come from a long line of strong, sassy, stubborn women - my mom included! - so she is an extension of all who came before her. Sometimes that makes me feel anxious for her, because I know how those traits of ours have led us astray now and again, and I know the toll that they can take. But I also know that those same traits will serve her well in life, once she learns how to harness them. She will be a warrior. She will stand strong in the fiercest of storms, even when she isn't sure she can do it. She will fight for what is right and stand up for others, even when it costs her. She will love with all of her heart and soul, and even when her heart breaks, she will mend it and go on to love even stronger the next time. I treasure every minute of life with this fiery girl and I love the bond we have. She still comes straight up to my bed to snuggle every morning when she wakes up, and still comes to me for hugs and kisses often throughout the day, and I pray she will never be too old to do those things.

As my last baby, there is something so bittersweet to watching Super Girl grow up, especially because I also have the perspective of Super Boy being so much older than her and so close to the end of his childhood, and in light of that there is no denying that it all goes by in a heartbeat. It goes too fast. And the older my children get, the more of my heart they carry with them everywhere they go every single day when they leave the house. While we've had nearly six years of life post-divorce with my children going to spend their time with their dad, whenever they are away from me longer than their usual every other weekend, my heart tugs until they are back with me again.

What else, what else....? OH - yes! So, all that stuff I said in my last post about dreading the dating scene? I was right to dread it. Kind of. I mean, it's a natural part of the process of moving on - you have to do it and put yourself out there if you ever want to find love again, so it's kind of unavoidable. But there are a LOT of frogs in the pond, my friends, and you do have to kiss a few of them before you find the prince hidden among them. I won't go into a lot of detail in this post, but I PROMISE I'll write about it another time because I have some really funny stories and a few life lessons learned from that whole experience and - as always - I hope my failures and successes can help give hope (or at least a really good laugh!) to someone else facing this situation. For now, suffice it to say that I had my share of frogs for nearly four years - but I most certainly did find my prince!

My prince, Joe, entered stage left in spring of 2016. How did we meet, you ask? Well, I'll tell you. We met on Tinder.

Yep - THAT Tinder.

Let me stop there. When I first divorced, a beloved fellow divorcee girlfriend of mine encouraged me to get on a dating website and give that a try. So I tried Match.com. I lasted two weeks (remember, I'll write more about the whole dating thing in detail another time). Maybe six months later, the same beloved friend encouraged me to try another site, so I went on either Plenty of Fish or OK Cupid (I can't remember which it was now). I lasted three weeks (more details to come!).

What was the problem that I only stayed on these sites for a few weeks each? The problem was two-fold.

First, it was like having a part-time job. The amount of time you need to spend on those sites to filter through and figure out who you want to respond to - much less get to a place of being ready to meet up - was just TOO MUCH at that point in my life, and that made it stressful and not at all fun. You have literally no control over who can reach out to you, no matter what parameters you put into place to narrow down the field of what you're looking for. The sheer number of "Hi. You're hot" messages I received were enough to turn my stomach. And of the few who took the time to write an intelligent message, easily three-quarters weren't at all what I was looking for. So then you feel bad and struggle with whether or not to take time to write back, what to say to avoid seeming rude, etc.

Second, apparently I am a freak-magnet. There: I said it. I attracted some weird AF people on those sites for some inexplicable reason, despite my profiles being very normal, vanilla, etc. That was a HUGE deterrent. Remind me to tell you the story of Meow Mix...

After my brief forays into the world of dating websites, I stayed away for a long time. Not because I had decided to remain single, although that arguably may have been the better choice! No, instead there were a couple of mismatched & ill-fated romances, neither of which was destined for greatness. But not everything in life needs to be. For where I was in my life, they were what they were. That's all I'll say about that.

And then I discovered Tinder. My former nanny and forever friend is the one who introduced me to it and insisted I get on it. She created a profile for me in early fall of 2015 and showed me how it worked. I was SUPER skeptical - after all, Tinder was rumored to be a hook-up site, right?!? I was NOT into hook-ups and never would be. But my friend assured me it wasn't like that anymore, so I agreed to give it a try. And I quickly realized I had found a dating vehicle I could work with! For starters, it was far more easily managed because no one could message me unless I had also swiped them right and we "matched". And if they ended up not being right for me, I could easily block them. It didn't take up a ton of my time, and I actually went on a few dates with some really nice guys. None of them were Mr. Right, but they were good people and I've even remained friends with one of them. Still, after a few weeks I abandoned Tinder, too, because I realized I just wasn't in the right frame of mind to be dating. The needle on my compass had gone a bit haywire - and I needed to find true north again.

I had come to the point where I needed to spend some time in my own head, fully entrenched in my own life, to take stock of where I was, where we were. I realized that since my divorce I had been thinking that there was a vacancy that needed to be filled in order for my life to be whole and complete. And the more I thought about it, the more absurd that thought was. Because by all accounts my life and everything about it was whole, complete and good. Really good. My children were happy, healthy, thriving, joyful, curious and well-adjusted. I was healthy and happy, self-sufficient, growing, and there was great peace and total freedom in my life. We were surrounded by wonderful friends and family. We went on great adventures together, big and small, and there was love and joy in our home. Not having a romantic relationship in my life didn't detract from ANY of that. Once I could see that clearly and really appreciate where we had come and all that I had accomplished on my own, I stopped thinking that there was an absence in my life. My life and my family were whole just as they were.

Coming to that conclusion was freeing. As spring was heading towards summer in 2016, I decided to embark on a Summer of Fun. I vowed that the kids and I would do different things, new things, spend more time with friends, and I was going to meet new people and just enjoy an awesome summer. I decided to go back on Tinder because, again, I had met some really nice and fun people the previous fall and knew they were out there, so even though I had no intention of "looking" for anything, I wanted to meet people to go DO things with. I created my new profile near the end of April. And Joe was one of the first people I matched with! His first message to me was engaging and intelligent, and immediately I was intrigued. And thus began a string of messages that stretched over two weeks. But - he hadn't suggested meeting yet...

So I went on a coffee date with another guy I'd matched with, and although he was super nice and I enjoyed getting to know him, our schedules were completely opposite with our kids and there just wasn't a spark.

That brings us to Saturday, May 7th. I was supposed to meet a guy named Andy for lunch that day - he had messaged me midweek to ask if I was free on the 7th for lunch and we left it that he would text me when he was out of work the morning of the 7th to figure out time and place. I was kind of "meh" on this guy because he was a bit younger, never married and had no kids, but he seemed like a fun person to just go DO things with so I decided to give it a go.

Now, I have to mention that May 7th ended up being a GORGEOUS spring day - sunny and mild temperatures in southeast Wisconsin, and I REALLY wanted to go hiking! As it turned out, when 11am rolled around and I hadn't heard a peep from Andy, I decided I wasn't going to sit and wait to hear from him - I was going hiking. That was right about the time I heard from Joe! (By the way, I never did hear from Andy - he actually stood me up! Thank God.)

As I was driving out to one of my favorite hiking spots, Joe texted me to say he was in my neck of the woods for his son's baseball game and although it was last minute, he was hoping we could meet up. I texted him back to say I was heading out to HIS neck of the woods to hike, but that we should connect later in the afternoon.

And so it was that I was mid-hike and a mile away from my car when Joe called me to see if I could meet him for coffee. I loved his voice the moment I heard it. I loved the happiness I heard in it. I wanted to meet him. Rather than have him wait in my area, I suggested we meet closer to his area since it was closer to where I was and I needed time to hike back to my car. I warned him that I was in yoga pants, and was sweaty with wild hair, but he assured me he wasn't dressed up either and he didn't mind. So I hiked back, drove to a Starbucks two exits away and nervously walked in. I scanned the people inside, looking for someone who matched the pictures I'd seen on Tinder. HE WASN'T THERE!

I laughed, wondering if I'd been stood up twice in the same day. And then I texted him to ask if I was in the right place! I was - he was just walking in.

When we saw each other, we both smiled big. We hugged hello. He smelled so good - he smelled right to me. We ordered our coffee; he paid. We brought them outside, but it was chillier in the shade than we thought, so we went back inside and found a table in the sun. And had the best coffee date of our lives.

I was supposed to meet up with my girlfriends for dinner that night and had been planning to only stay with Joe for maybe 45 minutes so I'd have time to drive home, shower and meet up with the girls. Joe and I were having such a great time talking, I kept pushing the time out further. Eventually, I reached the point where I was only going to have time to get home and change clothes before rushing to meet up with them, so I knew I had to go. We walked out together, hugged once more and left. When I met up with my girls for dinner and they asked how the coffee date went, I told them I had a feeling about this guy. He was different, had perspective, and really just seemed to get it.

From that day forward, it only got better with each day and week that passed. I didn't talk to or go out with anyone else and deleted my Tinder account; he did, too. By the end of the summer, he had met my kids and I'd met his. We had met each other's parents and half of the siblings. By Christmas, we'd met all of each other's families, and we spent Christmas and New Year's together. He proposed to me while we were on vacation with my family in Colorado in June of 2017 and of course I said yes!

I asked him when he knew he was going to marry me. He said that after our first coffee date on May 7, 2016, he talked to his mom that night and told her that I was unlike anyone he'd met before and he really liked me and wanted to see me again, to get to know me better. He also told her that if I never saw him again, I had set the bar for anyone else he'd ever date. By the end of the summer, he knew he wanted me and my kids in his life. By the holidays, he knew he was going to marry me. And it was all the same for me, with him.

The wedding is set for July 7th, my friends! It took me 42 years to find this man, and I couldn't be happier. I think if I'd met him earlier, I wouldn't have appreciated him for all the wonderful things that make him Joe. We both believe our dads - both deceased - had a hand in bringing us together when we were really ready. I thank God for this man every single day. He is the perfect partner for me, an incredible, present and engaged stepdad to my children, in addition to being a great and involved dad to his three sons (25, 22 and 19). We feel immeasurably blessed and lucky to have found each other and for our families to have blended together so well.

But here's the thing: we both felt our lives were really good as they were, so finding each other and this amazing love only adds to the goodness, the wholeness. We are together by choice, not by need, and we choose each other every single day.

There's so much more going on in life right now, but that's where I'll end for today because it's a beautiful place to leave off! Just know that I'm back and I'll be writing A LOT more. I have all sorts of topics I want to explore here over the next few months!

For those of you still following, THANK YOU! For any new readers, welcome to Average Everyday Super Woman - I hope you will find things that resonate with you here and that you'll come back often.

All the best to you and yours!
SW xx

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