Mar 23

Big Big Changes

On Monday, I went back to work. Part time, 3 days per week. In theory it should be ok. In practice, making it work, with the elite diving schedule and 2 elderly dogs at home, it’s like playing Tetris on crack.

Here’s the thing: I wasn’t looking for work, I didn’t think I was ready. My psychiatrist, therapist and GP certainly don’t think I’m ready. But my bank account is screaming that I am overdue. My kids’ feet keep growing and the damn internet is expensive (I fired the housekeeper. I am NOT cancelling the internet). Now, my dear husband, bless his heart, was a super positive guy: Everything Was Going to Be OK. That’s what he told me, a thousand times. Well, let me tell you, everything is most certainly not ok. Death is ugly. Death and Estates is even uglier. And if people don’t have your best interest at heart***, well then it’s REALLY ugly. So we’ve made adjustments: cash only, no more eating out, no shopping, etc. But at some point, the only answer became going back to work. And lo and behold, out of nowhere, someone I actually really like and respect called me and said ‘listen, this might work…’ So I ditched the Pajama-Jeans and found a couple of business-casual outfits and voila, I am back in the work force. I didn’t even have to explain my 14 month absence from the work force and the interview didn’t once adress my dead husband.

Everyone keeps telling me I am setting a great example for my kids, that they will remember this as a great turnaround for all of us. But right now, I still see it as a pile of undone laundry, frozen chicken fingers, dog accidents in the middle of the living room, and one kid eating dinner alone… OK, so my proof-reading skills are still ‘On Fleek’ and I caught a bunch of stuff on day one, and I think I might actually have something to contribute. But a huge part of me feels like I am failing my kids. There is no way J. would have wanted this for us. But he couldn’t bring himself to think of the minutia of dealing with ‘after’.

So I’m doing my best. I’m working and showing my girls that even when you get punched in the stomach, kicked in the balls and slapped in the face all at once, you get back up and you keep going.


*** let me clarify that there are people who are trying to move mountains to help me and the girls and I am SO GRATEFUL for their help, support and hard work. I understand that estates are complicated and death and taxes take time. But I also understand that I need to feed my kids and put gas in my car.


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  1. Liz

    to quote one of my favorite movies… “it was always going to be a totally shit time” and that is the truest thing ever said about the death of a spouse. It is going to be a totally shit time no matter, so you might as well be able to buy some poutine and the occasional pair of shoes.

    if it works, even just as a transition, that is fucking fantastic. You and the girls will get a lot from it no matter, and some of it might even look like it was good (in about 10 years). If it doesn’t work, you quit. No one judges the very recent widow for quitting if that is what has to happen.

    You are strong and you are doing the best you fucking well can every day. I know you hate being told that you are strong, but you are. Of course you are. You get your ass out of fucking bed every day, and that is strong.

    As I told the 4 year old who got 2 shots today: you are brave, because being brave doesn’t mean you aren’t scared, being brave means you are scared and you do it anyway. That is brave. You and the girls are brave.

  2. Shelly

    You are a hero. Period. The kids will be OK V – and no matter how beaten up you feel, you’re still their compass. I’m so proud of you, and them.

  3. Tanya

    I wish I had wise words here- but I don’t. I do want to send you the support though 😉 I hate that you are being put into this position. It sucks beyond. The only thing is that you tend to grab whatever you are doing & make the most of it…and I’m sorry if you hate me saying that. So… you post your pics of the work outfits & entertain us with the commentary…and I guess I hope that somewhere in there you are getting a few smiles too. Just hoping that maybe you’ll derive some satisfaction from said job because you have a tendency to rock at whatever you do.. and then maybe, just maybe, that will have bring some good vibes your way. If it doesn’t happen, then like Liz said…you can move on to the next…I wish I had something better to say to you..this is all I’ve got! Well this & a virtual hug – but you’re likely sick of the virtual hugs too 😉

  4. Michele

    You are a fighter, girl. I wish you didn’t have to fight this hard this soon, but I’m proud of you for doing what needs to get done. Huge hugs. Xox

  5. Michelle

    You are doing the thing. The thing that sucks to do, but it’s what you have to do when you have been dealt so much at once. You aren’t failing the girls, though that feeling is very real in a mother’s life. Try to find kindness for yourself. You are still standing.

  6. Ellie

    All you can do is get through the next 15 minutes. After that, you’ll get through the next 15 minutes. I mean, sure, make plans for the kids to get where they need to go but other than that, take it 15 minutes at a time. You’re doing it! One day you’ll look back and wonder how the hell you did it, but you’re doing it. And you’re doing it in some couch pixie pants!!!!

  7. Amber

    Grief is a bitch and the practicalities of life have to be taken care of while she beats you up. If putting one foot in front of the other led you to this job, you are moving forward even if each step hurts and the adjustment takes time. You are going to be ok and the girls are going to be ok. Sending you lots of love and good juju.

  8. Rachelle

    This is just such unnecessary hardship and I hope karma takes a big bite out of whoever is making this so much more difficult than it needs to be. You are strong and fantastic and will kick this thing and then just keep kicking but. i believe in you.

  9. Amy/grrlTravels

    #1: call me if it ever comes to canceling the internets. Because no.
    #2: this is the opposite of failing your kids. I know it feels like it because it doesn’t look like what you want it to look like, and that’s valid. But you are doing what you have to do. And a little hardship teaches kids things we could never hope to teach them otherwise.
    #3: I can understand why it was so hard for your husband to deal with the details of after, but this is wrenching in so many ways. I wish you all could concentrate on your grieving and finding your new normal. We all know that this current situation would have pained J. in so many ways.

  10. Nat

    I read, and read, and read your post again. I’m pretty sure I’m not too dumb. My English is sufficient. Still, I fail to see how you can possibly be failing! Was it stupid autocorrect that changed “fighting” for “failing”???

    Seriously, I’m just speechless that “the estate” can’t even respect their own boy and the choices he made in life. They show no recognition for the man that Jay was, and all the good he stood for, almost as if his adult life had no value. Sad. And insulting to you and to the girls.

    But you are worth so much more than all of this. Keep your head up high, no matter what: you are fighting, and it’s hard and it sucks. Be kind and gentle with yourself.

    And get yourself a case of wine with that first paycheck.

  11. Rivkah T

    You’re doing what you have to do to keep on going, and you’re doing a great job at it. This is not something that is easy to prepare for in any way….

  12. Karyn

    I’ve a jumble of thoughts…if I can figure out a way to smooth them out I’ll come back later and edit, until then…
    When I look at you I see a woman who will do whatever it takes to keep things together for her daughters.
    I see a shero but also a real woman, one who is remarkably open about the challenges she has faced over the years. A woman who can bring us to tears and laughter and who does so even when.
    I see red for you too — the bureaucratic and labyrinthine estate resolution insults added to the injuries make me so furious for you and the girls.
    My heart soars every time you are able to talk about a synchronicity that helps you through a rough patch and I am always pulling for you when the solutions haven’t shown themselves.

  13. Laurie

    This just makes my heart hurt, that you are forced into this position. It’s all so unnecessary and cruel. However, you are doing the absolute best you can for your girls, and nobody could ask for a better mother. Your love for them shines through. I will be there in just a couple of weeks to give you real life hugs of support!

  14. Sarah in Ottawa

    You are not failing your kids. You are doing EXACTLY what needs to be done right now to support them in your mutual time of need.

    My beloved (now late) grandma was unexpectedly widowed when she was just a bit older than you, my Dad was 16 and my aunt was 11. I thought immediately of her when you posted this. Decades later, she spoke candidly with teenage me about the heartache and struggles she faced, including selling their store which was attached to their house. downsizing, and finding a job in the local hospital to make more money so they could stay afloat. Sound familiar? She talked about when the doubts would creep in, and how inadequate she felt, but that she would focus on the essentials – the she kids were clothed and fed, they had a roof over their heads, and that they were loved beyond measure.

    My Dad and his sister appreciate so much the sacrifices that she made, how hard she worked even though she was in pain. It’s shaped the kind, generous, and loving people they are and how much they appreciate the world around them. She was one of my biggest influences growing up. She (and her Mom) were breast cancer survivors too. She would have LOVED you (and that is high praise!).

    I’ll close by saying what I opened with — you are not failing your kids by any means; you are doing what needs to be done. And add that I though am not a violent woman, I’d really like to punch your arsehole inlaws. So, so, so much love to you three from your Ottawa fan club, ESPECIALLY little V who asks about you on an almost daily basis.

  15. Linda

    I’m sorry that you have to go through this. It’s terrible and awful and I wish We could just hit fast forward to get you through it. Love to you and the girls.

  16. Maia Rossini

    You’re getting your family through, V. That’s not failing, that’s fighting. Your girls will always remember how strong you were when they needed you most.

  17. C

    My experience is different than yours, but with some similarities, so I will share what it has taught me. Your kids will suffer a bit, they will learn and they will grow a lot. And they will know that everything you do is to make sure they have the very best you can give them. They will KNOW this V, I can tell you that. You have always put their needs first, and they are at an age when they can understand all of these things. And yes sometimes they will be angry at you – or not at you but it will still be you they get cranky with – but they will always KNOW that you are doing the best you can for them. And you are doing so much. The other thing I’ve learned is that if you make sure to give them some time, even if it’s just taking the time to drive one to her sports or take another one to get those shoes she needs, if you make the most of those moments, they will also appreciate that. And they might now show it or tell you but when it comes down to it, they will appreciate it… I’ve had a few conversations lately with my kids that have confirmed that.
    And don’t ever feel guilty about the choices and compromises you are having to make. Life is tough, and particularly in your case, and you are doing an amazing job at standing up to adversity. Your children will love you for that and for everything you have done for them, and they have an amazing role model in you. Courage.

  18. Debberoo

    Oh V I’m so sorry. You and the girls have been through so much, terrible things that all the money in the world couldn’t mend. To now be struggling with additional stress that money could so easily fix is such a cruel blow. I can understand how hard it was for J to tackle the “after” but he would never have wanted this for you and his children.

    Keep pushing on V, you can only do what you can, and what you do is so much more than many of us because you do the stuff that takes great strength when you have no strength left. I send all good wishes that the financial aspect will soon be resolved so that you and the girls don’t have to worry about which bills you can pay when you are still struggling to come to terms with the terrible loss of J. x

  19. Debbie in the UK

    Please, if there is any way you can stop work then stop. You are obviously not ready and need time to heal. J was sick for a long time and you were juggling things so much then, you just do not need this right now. If you positively HAVE to work then all I can so is send my love and hope you get through. It sucks.

  20. Amanda

    You are amazing, and there is nothing that you have done in this situation that constitutes “failure”. I am so sorry that you are having to deal with all of this when your grief is so fresh, because I know J never would have wanted this for you and the girls. So much love to you all.

  21. Deanna

    In a perfect world, you wouldn’t have to do all that you’re doing. We all do what we need to get by in not always ideal circumstances, and you have done that over and over. If that’s not setting a strong example to live by for your girls, I don’t know what is. They know it. If they don’t realize it today, they will as they mature. Know that invisible hands all across the world support and stand by you. Sending lots of love to you.

  22. Jennye

    I can’t add anything that the amazing people above me haven’t already said more eloquently, but I want to add my voice so you know that it isn’t just a handful of people who think that doing what you have to do is anything but right. Until the Estate ugliness is handled, you need to know that you are in there fighting so that kids get fed, get to school in appropriate clothing and you can drive them there with gas in your car all while living in a warm safe home.

    And even more than that, seeing those little successes at work will help to bring you back to the you that you used to be. It will help you feel in control of things again, even if it is just this project on the table in front of you. And it is the doing that will help your girls get through it too. There are always going to be obstacles from places we know are scary but also from places we thought should be safe. And you are teaching them one step at a time how to face that and move through it. And also to know that it is the times of stress and pain that brings out the truth of the people around them.

  23. Anna in Turin

    V, you are doing what needs to be done and your girls will be ok. My mom had to go back to work when I was 14 years old because of financial problems. I had to take care of my 4 younger siblings, plus cook supper and clean up afterwards. It made me a strong person and not only did I learn to take care of myself but I learned to take care of others too.

    Your girls will suffer, no doubt, they are already suffering, their beloved J-Dad died and they miss him terribly. You are always there and will always be there for them.

    BTW, It’s Easter holidays here in Italy, kids are out of school as of today until next Tuesday, my husband and I have to work. We only have the weekend and Easter Monday off. The teenager in the house has to stay home by himself, heat up his lunch and do his homework while we are away. He’s ok, he misses us, but we see him when we get home. Everything works out in the end, you’ll see.

    I just wish fucking estate shit didn’t have to be so fucking complicated. Geez….give a girl a break already…I could say more on this but will bite my tongue.

  24. Miss T

    You and the girls have suffered too much for a lifetime if not more. You’re amazing & have done a lot for everyone around you- I hope everyone you’ve supported & helped will find a way to support you and the girls in return. You’re doing what you can with what you have, when you have more- you’ll do more… Along the lines of you do your best with what you have, when you know better you do better. I have no words of wisdom outside of knowing that you’re amazing mother and person. I’ll always be your cheerleader, and am open to support you in every way I can. I’ve read everything everyone has written and agree fully. Just know- hugs.

  25. Sandra

    You’ve written before that this blog is also about venting. I hope getting it out through your fingertips helps ease the internal burden enough to breathe fully once in awhile. It’s obvious V that you do your best each and every day. Your “best” is so far above and beyond what most could bear and still get out of bed every day that it saddens me to think you can’t catch a break. You are awesome.

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