Everybody’s got a B.C. which, in my book, just means Before Crap.
Before I… Before we… Before this…Before that….Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. Wah. Wah. Wah.
Let’s just get this out of the way. Here’s my before.
Before I got divorced, I was married, lived in a 3,000+ square foot house in a perfect location with perfect schools with perfect neighbors (namely Tracy and co.) and lived a seemingly perfect life.
Seemingly perfect…I cried myself to sleep because I could not, for the life of me, figure out the who, what, where, when, why, and how of things went so wrong.
Seemingly perfect…I also found myself in the fetal position in my closet with the lights off and the door closed, praying to the Mother Mary.
Seemingly perfect…I also finally humbly admitted the truth to my friends: namely Amy, Jesse, Heather, Erin, and Tracy. (XO forever in my book, babes.)
Then, I finally found the right therapist for me: the perfect amount of empathy + tough love + truth = Dr. Melissa Oleshansky.
Now, of course, I tried to work things out with my husband a ga-jillion times. Of course, I thought of my children a ga-jillion times. Do you have any idea how many “good-hearted” people asked me that, point blank and straight-faced: “Yes…but have you really thought about the kids?!“
I always answered like a good girl, but internally…oh, Lordy.
Bonus of being mid-life: my pre-frontal cortex was fully developed! So I answered the appropriate way. When people go low, I try to go high–thanks, Michelle Obama! What a thing to ask! Like I’d never considered my two children’s well-being while I cried myself to sleep or curled myself into the fetal position, or prayed to the Mother Mary, or my own mother in heaven. I’d think to myself: Gee…no, I’ve never taken into account my kids at all. I’m a totally selfish, narcissistic, and self-absorbed sociopath–can’t you tell?! Like I said, good thing my self-control was in tact. Like Robert Downey Junior once quoted, “Listen, smile, agree, and then do whatever the f**k you were gonna do anyway.”
At any rate, I got sick and tired of being sick and tired, so I finally filed for divorce. One of us would have, eventually.
Then there was the during.
Now…there’s the A.D. = After Divorce. Ahhhhh, the sweet smell of after: more away; farther off.
Farther off from our past life: the kids and I found this hidden gem: HOME
I know who lived here first because their names are etched on a basement wall: Anita, Bill, and Amanda. After that, came the Masson family from whom I bought the house. Once we finally moved in, Mady attempted to christen our home with nail polish…but I think our new driveway does a much more “assertive” job with both six handprints and six initials, along with meandering dog prints.
Our home is 1,222 square feet with a finished basement included with a second full bath downstairs. That sealed the deal for me. Well, that and the fact that our backyard is part of a commons area–this view, the land, the woods and trails, and the park with a pond.
At first, I was concerned about downsizing so much: 3,000 square feet on a court with friends, down to less than half the size, away from their playmates, and their neighbors? Hadn’t I put them through enough? (See? Proof that I was, in fact, thinking of the kids. To all the naysayers, bless your hearts.)
But home means lots of different things to lots of different people.
To me, it should feel like a healthy relationship: It should feel good.
Learning and reflecting feel good, too. I’ll share a few lessons I’ve learned the hard way. (This is the part where you refresh your cup of coffee and eat that muffin, like we do on any happy “Sunday Morning” along with Jane Pauley, right, Pablo?)
“Top Ten Things I’ve Learned A.D.”
1.Change is sometimes necessary; you have to be willing to change. People. Homes. Relationships. Material possessions. Sense of self. Spirit. Purpose. Locations. Mindsets.
2. Divorce is not always bad. In fact, sometimes it’s better.
3. Sometimes the worst thing is the best thing, and the best thing is the worst thing.
4.You gotta get through the goo…to get to the good. It’s just a “D” thing, baby.
5.By living in a smaller home, I can keep up on my kids during the day and during the night.
6.Because our rooms are so close to one another, I can hear Lance pray to God. It melts my heart every single time: from the trivial (Fortnite skins and wins); to the serious (let the world be better on the news). Would I ever have heard his prayers before, in our bigger home, when our rooms were so far away?
7.And I get to overhear Mady’s conversations with her friends on her iPhone. (Keepin’ tabs and fighting the good mom fight.) Then I have a follow-up convo with her when I kiss her goodnight.
8.So the smallness of our home equates to more “togetherness”/ physical proximity, which I realize only now, that we lacked before.
9.One concessionary caveat: we all fight for time over the one bathroom we share upstairs. You can’t have it all. And when the two of them fight, I hear that too. (So I thank God for earbuds, podcasts, dog-walks, and 1-2-3 Magic, along with the threat of loss of Xbox or iPhone, and yeah there may be a few “sailor terms” tossed in those rough waters.)
10.Finally, Dr. O told me to ensure my bedroom was always “calm and happy”; I encourage that expectation. It’s my sanctuary. Though I charge the kids’ electronic devices in my bedroom after 8:30/9pm on school nights, I silence them (yes, both the kids AND their devices), then I lock my door. I don’t allow any of my own work in there either: I relax, I read, I rest, I sleep. Sanctuary. Of course I come out if somebody needs me, but the kids DO NOT sleep in my bed. If they need me, have bad dreams, or any awakening issues, I’ll come to them.
So add all that to my A.D.
There’s only one thing lacking in our home: an office for myself.
My life has gotten much busier: I’m an Instagram blogger and “influencer” (@meg.in.the.mid) though I don’t like that term–it sounds so condescending. I’d rather just be honest and have reciprocity within community. I’m also the Creative Content Producer for Millennium Magazine http://www.millenniummagazine.com/
I’ve taken on AP Capstone at Troy High School, I’m an intern liaison for Oakland University, I write my blog https://meginthemid.com/, I freelance …oh, and I’m still a regular, single mom who tries to fix things like my garbage disposal (don’t watch that disaster on my IGTV), balance my budget, pay my bills on time, maintain a healthy and engaging relationship with Matt…you know: “stuff”.
So I needed some place for some “Headspace”. Like a “she-shed” but inside since we live in Michigan where I only like the weather about half the time.
So, I said to myself, “Meg…you’re an influencer and a creative content producer. So go influence and create some content.”
This is where Kate came in.
After much consulting, I settled upon Kate Richard Design. She’s done eye-opening projects with Jack Daniels, NFL players, and musicians. Check her out on Insta (@katericharddesign) and her Facebook page or website: https://katericharddesign.com/
She’s chic, well-established, renowned, brilliant, creative. Plus, she gets me, she’s collaborative, and she worked within my budget. She’s an honest and authentic woman who gets what it feels like to be a woman with all the inside and outside “stuff”.
And we don’t even live in the same state! Though she’s worked all over the country, she’s currently based out of Nashville. But we still developed this friendship/collaboration through Facetime, text, phone calls, emails, and pictures. Social media has its benefits when it comes to community, I’ll say that.
So we collaboratively decided on some mis-used space in my basement for my new home office.
Step 1: Clear the area. My backdrop was there for my video promos, but the kids loved playing with it, too. A few examples:
Step 2: Move the backdrop and measure.
Here it is: between a rock and a hard place. Kidding, not kidding: it’s between my treadmill and a closet. But Kate is so innovative, she came up with several options for layouts and renderings.
Step 3: Find cute items to match her rendering via Facetime.
Then I had you guys vote on Instagram for my lamps–winner winner!
Once the big, heavy boxes began arriving at my door, I phoned in for help. My big bro SuperActionGuy on YouTube (aka my brother Jay) is an engineer. He actually measures things more than once and uses levels and tools I own, but still can’t name appropriately. First, he removed the closet doors so that I could re-utilize this space according to Kate’s plan:
While Jay assembled my desk (IG and FB video with Scarlett) and hung the heavy pictures with precision and anchors, I soon realized that we had hit two small issues that needed to be solved (no, not the kids).
*Issue #1: The lamps were too large for the desk and so covered the photos Jay had already hung. Solution! Swap them for my two bedroom lamps.
*Issue #2: My new cool grey, suede swivel chair was delayed in shipping. Whatever: I’ll make the best of it. It’s not the first time I’ve stood on my own two feet.
So here you have it!
Work doesn’t even feel like work down here! It’s my new version of a “she-shed”. And if Lance’s corner nook with Fortnite gets too noisy, I keep earbuds in the drawer. It’s cozy. It’s me. It’s clean. It’s efficient. It streamlines my life–and now I have two sanctuaries.
So this collaboration among myself, Kate Richard Design, and Millennium Magazine has me rejuvenated.
I feel so empowered to finally have an office for myself. A career for myself. A pension about eight years away. A creative business for myself. A beautiful place to manage our home and the lives we are living A.D.
And you: my family, my friends, my students, my colleagues, my “followers” and my leaders and mentors…
…thanks for always hangin’ in there with me with your support, encouragement, comments, texts, emails, gifs, messages, hand-written letters, and memes. It all means more than you will ever know.
Please continue to share, like, comment, and FOLLOW on INSTAGRAM: @meg.in.the.mid, @katericharddesign, @millenniummagazine.
I think my mother would be proud.