My Crazy, Curious, Kind, Compassionate, and Rarely Quiet Kids

I’ve had four kids, and am raising three. One lives with my parents as his needs outstrip our ability to manage him. The three hilarious and strangely well-adjusted parasites that remain in the care of my ex-husband, and our formidable and fantastic tribe, make me laugh every single day. They are aged 14, 12, and 5. Two of them have my face, and one looks a bit like Will or Mike (those two look sooooo similar) from Stranger Things. He also looks a little bit like his father did at his age.

Daniel enjoying some deliciousness in 🇯🇵 Japan spring 2019

We are a motley crew. Most of our public outings include dance routines, ad-libbed singing to whatever songs may be wafting through the mall, supermarket or amusement park lucky enough to host the hobbits West. We. Are. Loud. We are kind, complimentary to strangers, observant of hilarity wherever and whenever it presents itself, and we are perfectly happy to catch the eyes and confused or slightly scared looks of strangers. We are a team of tyrants who will not tolerate injustice, insist on honesty, and aren’t afraid to have a laugh at our own expense.

Daniel rocking my vintage Prada shades while Steph makes noise… while I survey the beauty of New Zealand 🇳🇿

I’ve been home now for about four days or so since my last major overseas jaunt for 2019.  The Love I have for my chosen homeland bubbles up and exploded out of me in an expletive laden rant as I traversed through the mighty Waikato on our way to the Bay of Plenty for a rhythmic gymnastics competition that Stephanie-Jane actually kicked some serious ass in.  Coming up over the saddle between the Hauraki plains and BOP sent me raging loudly with such colourful collogues as:

“Jesus Mary AND Joseph Daniel and Steph, just look at those HILLS! They don’t even look real. That hurts my brain. How are we so blessed to live here? OMG! OMG! OMG! Do you see the light beams bouncing off the forest over there? LOOK AT YOUR BEAUTIFUL COUNTRY! LOOK AT IT!”

My enthusiasm is always met with utterly unrelated observations about brain hemispheres, grave social injustices, or, sometimes dark jokes about ennui and depression from Daniel.  Steph is more prone to shrill yelling, because she pretty much yells at the top of her lungs when she wants a thing, until she gets the thing, then simmers down until a wave of desire for the next thing takes hold and the yelling resumes.

Luckily, this bullshit behaviour is reserved only for me.  They don’t even pull out the big guns of assholedness I have been privy to this weekend for their dear old dad.  They save it for me, I am assuming, as a punishment for the vast swathes of time I spend abroad, and a clear reminder that they do indeed, Love me dearly, and my own eccentricities have not gone unobserved; rather clearly noted and expertly simulated with sardonic stealth.  These kids are comic geniuses with very different schticks.  They are also unafraid to speak freely of their fears and feelings, no matter how fucked up either of these things may be at any given time.

Accurate portrayal of me reading their memes

Now, don’t even get me started on my kids’ friends. They are all kinds of clever and quirky and fantastic. There’s something about being the mom who simply does not give a fuck what other people think or say that has earned me a firm foothold of trust and tenderness in the hearts of all of the kids chosen tribes. Well, we’ve kinda established that Daniel pretty much doesn’t have any friends except for Ben (the incredibly detail oriented, and perhaps slightly OCD tour guide who joined us on Daniel’s 14thbirthday trip to Japan) because he’s pretty much only ever had room for one friend at a time for as long as any of us can remember. Steph, on the other hand, has several gaggles of gregarious and gloriously giggly guys and gals. Mostly gals to be fair. Her social circle is vast and varied and she hangs with creative kids who now reside around the planet. Her two major social circles in New Zealand are her Gym girls and her Junior High posse of perfectly pained pre-teens. These girls are shoveling all kinds of shit and insecurities, while Steph wafts wanton through her weeks, shrieking at me and me only when she neeeeeeds something to happen. I adore her very loud friends. They are all taller than me, they are all very clear on the fact they will always have a home and a hug with the super weird West clan. They remind me in many ways of my own group of friends, only far more vanilla. None of the kids nor their social circles have any interest in veering very far off the tracks. They are drug and alcohol free, do not drink coffee and only “spill tea” (this is what their ritual of spilling secrets and sharing their deepest fears and problems among a safe and secure circle). I Love each of these kids like they were family, and for most intents and purposes, they actually are family. We have found each other in a crazy world, and I suspect I will support and cherish them all in one way or another for as long as I breathe.

Then, there are my kids friend’s parents.  Love, respect and earnest strain and parenting pain bind us together.  There’s no need for anyone in the world to know what troubles these kids are facing, nor the lengths their legendary parents go to protecting and guiding the greatness that is contained in their offspring.  But we share our struggles openly, honestly, and without judgement. I suspect the reason my kids’ parents confide in me so readily, is that I am so open with being a complete fuck up a lot of the time.  We are all doing our best, with unique and challenging children.  Some of them are feisty, some shy, some angry, some have a tendency to lie.  But they are all actually really great kids, and not raging too far in the face of social conventions or norms, rather, they are all kids with convictions, unafraid to disagree with the world, their parents, or society.  They even have the ability to respectfully stand up to one another, which, at this stage of development is very rare indeed, as this is the stage in our lives when friends and social acceptance are the holy grail of existence. They’re a good bunch.  I just hope that their disinterest in all the trappings and poor choices presented through peer pressure continues.  

I may be downplaying some of the heavy shit we have been through together over the years.  My kids are far from perfect.  My eldest son is a proper pessimist, daughter is a diva, and my baby boy Jamie has absolutely no ability to use an inside voice in any situation.  He’s possibly the cutest and cuddliest human I have ever met though.  This kid will rage at you for a solid 30-40 seconds when he’s overtired or hangry, and then come bounding up into your arms apologizing for his mean words and expounding his undying adoration for his less than perfect parent (that includes his other mum and dad, the Nanny Lou and her husband Mike).

So, tomorrow I am off again on an epic road trip with two of my goddesses across the country finalizing the details for an international EV extravaganza in November.

Three more nights away from my babies, and home for two nights, then down to Wellington with my magnificent ex-husband Phteven.  This time next year, I have every intention of taking my children out of school for a semester and settling for a month in each of their favourite cities, and just being their mother and writing every day. 

Happily Coupled Couples got Dee Thinking 🤔

I’ve landed back in the lap of luxury as I do every time I pass through LA. Dear friends for nearly a decade, Cat and Dan, who we met while they were more or less honeymooning some years ago, have been my hosts here in the city of angels on virtually every occasion I have blown through town.

Cat does not mince words and is a smart a whip and has a heart the size of a planet and skills of observation to match her almost limitless concern for her nearest and dearest. She’s been a great source of strength and advice over the years, and pulls no punches when discussing the realities of dating in this digital age.

Snuggled up in my big princess bed, while they are busying themselves with dinner plans and organizing our day out in Hollywood tomorrow, I realised, for the first time in three years, that I want to bring someone with me on a future visit. I realised, that despite having an extensive dating network of solid, healthy, happy and fulfilling relationships around the globe, I am actually far more suited to traditional monogamy. I have played the field, and today, in Sherman Oaks California, I have decided quite seriously, that I might just be played out.

I can’t put my finger on why some of my romantic pairings work an absolute treat, and others are fleeting or never even get momentum out of the gate. And then, others are just unmitigated DISASTERS! Oof, I have some regrets, not many, but they are there and I grit my teeth and clench my jaw just wondering why and how I could be so stupid! For the most part though, I have had a chance to feel Loved, appreciated, occasionally objectified (and reciprocated in kind), and almost always respected. Not feeling respected is quite the worst feeling. Not feeling understood is also a bit shit. I know I have also been quite cruel in my dealings with some people, and careless with others’ hearts on occasion. I send mixed signals, am incredibly flippant, and unreliable at best. But I am earnest. And I have Love and friendship and honesty to burn. And burn through it I do, with reckless abandon and my whole heart and occasionally body as well.

So the plan is to nurture a small number of relationships I have on the go at home while actively on the search for something substantial. I don’t expect this search to be simple or straightforward. I am quite convinced I do not yet know the future Mr. West. While I do not discount the idea of a female life partner, I think the chances are heavily weighted toward a quiet and patient man being my next penguin. Extroverts need not apply.

I have made hundreds of matches over the last three years. And I am worn out. Very few connections have been disastrous, and my rules are simple: Must be kind, smart, and supremely single. It is not that I have any moral objection to people with open marriages or whatever, it is just that there is absolutely no reason to further complicate my own life, when there are clearly a suprluss of singles and separated folks floating through life, and in the perfect age for me right now too (40-50). Why would anyone bother with more complications than already exist in the minefield that is Romance in the late 2010’s?

So I have had this chat with three of my not boyfriends this morning. I’ve spent the last few years living a series of harlequin romances with people I have grown to Love and trust very much. It is always a huge honour when people take time off work and fly over to meet me or book us a lovely hotel somewhere. I feel free and grown up and enjoy the adult company and conversation very much.

But I want what I once had, and I want it to be an even richer and more fulfilling relationship, considering age and experience. I’ve clearly identified what I need and want and the richness I now know offer as a potential partner. I felt like a trophy wife too often in my now defunct marriage. I crave a relationship where I am part of a team, and seen internally and externally as an equal. Cheerleading and championing friends and Loved ones is second nature to me, but I want to hunker down and have my family (mixed or extended if that’s what happens) charging forth into an impactful and rewarding future or adventures and activism together. I’m not holding out for a hero, I am my own fucking hero thank you very fucking much. I am holding out for an equal. Someone who absolutely understands that I am a hot mess and Loves and respects me enough to hold me accountable, and genuinely celebrates my strengths, and I do the same in return.

There is a strange kind of loneliness that comes when you are rarely alone I think. I get to laugh and adventure and share magical moments more in a year than I had suspected I could or would ever be privy to in a decade. When I was a miserable and lonely child in Tomahawk Alberta, the idea of being a waitress or hostess at some family restaurant in California was as romantic and crazy a notion then as owning a sprawling penthouse in Manhattan is for me today. But I like my life right now. I truly do. It has been eye opening and I know me so much better than I did three years ago. And I know that I am “fucking hard work at times (exact words from several partners…)” and carry a lot of baggage. But I do not begrudge the same in other people at all. I am ready to get my hands dirty trying to build a new life. Although, I am in no rush to get started, as I do feel it will be a long and arduous journey finding my next (and hopefully last) soulmate and partner in life and Love.

I remember the way my husband used to look at me, like perhaps I was magic or maybe I even hung the moon itself with my swift, tiny little hands. There are moments of the same magic with many of the men I have been dating. I need to put it to the universe that I am ready for my next one and only, as I suspect the search could take years, even once I have firmly decided that this is what I seek and want.

So, for today, I will hang out with my dear friends and we will dine out at some impossible to get into trendy LA assault on the senses, and I will be left dizzy and grateful for the glow of our friendship. I want someone to share it all with me again one day. I talk to my ex every single day, and we have had some of the most beautiful memories and forged a life that flies thousands of feet above both of our wildest imaginings. But that life was then, and we are not going to get it back. Nor, do either of us want it. I do want to feel that magic and safety and coupledom again. I guess I will keep you posted, and hopefully be able to see and snuggle a few of my favourite partners before I am shipped out for good again. But who knows what tomorrow brings I suppose. And I have absolutely no strategy or timeline for the search and journey I think I am finally ready to be on.

We can but see I suppose.