Category

Single Motherhood

Rain Before Rainbows

Maybe if I try…

Maybe if I try: Rain before rainbows
Rain, rain, go away…

 

Part of becoming a grown up is accepting the fact that you can no longer accomplish “anything you want to do.”

No, I’ll never explore Mars.

No, I’ll never discover that I’m actually a princess, mixed at birth.

No, I probably won’t even inherit millions of dollars from a dear uncle who I don’t recall ever meeting.

And apparently I won’t be able to work outside the home either.

I had argued this fact on two occasions without an actual trial:

  • After my daughter’s birth, I stayed home, with the intent to return back to teaching after the kids were in school full time. Just after my son was born, I was diagnosed with MS. After much deliberation, it was decided (with nearly no input from me) that my career, for which I’d gone to undergraduate and graduate school, as well as countless workshops, seminars, and symposiums, blah, blah, blah was no longer an option. I would be unable to return. I mourned, but still upheld hope: maybe if I tried…
  • During my divorce deliberations it was decided (with, once again, nearly no input from yours truly) that I COULD work; that I was just being lazy by saying otherwise. I rejoiced: maybe if I tried…

And try I did… I uploaded my resume to one of those online-job-recruitment-site-thingies on a Wednesday night, and my first call came in on Thursday morning. With no preparation at all, I started interviewing. I was not quite as nervous as I normally would be, because I wasn’t actually planning on going back until the following year, when my little one was in kindergarten. This was just practice, I told myself. I hadn’t even updated my certifications!

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Christmas Past, Christmas Future **one**

C-31 the code on my boarding pass proclaimed. Great, I thought: the cheap seats.

After a long stint Coming home after Christmaswaiting in an organized line for the flight attendant to take said pass, then another wait on the jetway while the passengers in front of me crammed their stuffed-to-capacity-and-then-some carry-ons into too-small overhead compartments, I boarded the aircraft and stood on my tip-toes to view my potential seats.

“Ladies and gentleman, there is a full flight this morning, so please be sure to allow these new passengers access to all the seats in your row,” a nasally woman’s voice came over the loudspeaker.  I noticed a few people who were already seated roll their eyes, huff, or curse under their breath. Sigh.

In a feeble attempt to get myself a seat that didn’t involve being sandwiched between a crying baby and someone who looked like a “talker,” I scanned available openings as I continued to amble down the narrow aisle.

Each time I found a potentially decent place to sit, I was rammed forward by the horde in back of me. Before long, I was given the choice of a middle seat in the back row of the plane, or one on top of the toilet. I chose the former so that I didn’t infuriate the flight attendant.

I began mushing my way into my destined residence in a flourish of body parts and bags and whispered “Excuse me!”s and “I’m so sorry!”s. In order to get to that particular seat, I had to apologize for my very existence.

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Identification

What Is Your “Identity”?

I remember in a graduate class the professor posing the question.

She told us not to answer right away, but rather to consider the question carefully over the course of a few days. The next time we met, each of us were to think of all the words that identified us as individuals— teacher, spouse, parent, student, patient, former whatever-the-case-may-be, athlete, friend, etc.

Oh, good. Any easy day, I thought. Time to give my brain a break.

Turns out, I was wrong. This happened to be a defining moment for me, though at the time, I was unaware. So, I considered the ways that I saw my life, and how others perceived me. I thought about how I wanted to be identified. I also thought about how I didn’t want to be identified. This is an exercise that I find helpful to return to often, in order to make sure that I’m doing everything in my power to display the qualities that I want to be synonymous with as a person.

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Becoming the Bad Guy

I’m a hard sell; I know that about myself. A 35-year-old single mother of two small children with a degenerative disease of which there is no cure? There are not a lot of available men who want to take on that project.

I learned (from my daughter) of my soon-to-be-ex-husband’s girlfriend, and I was pissed, but I think that was a fairly standard and pretty mild reaction to the situation at hand.

When I moved through each day quickly enough, I was easily able to avoid any real feelings. Though this is the approach that I had taken, at times such as these, feelings started to creep up, usually at night. Heartache, fear, anger. As much as I may have tried to suppress them, they tip-toed into my stomach then ran rampant in my heart. Now, he was moving on, and I was left here, in this place of loneliness and sorrow.

Yeah, I was pissed.

Where does one turn when dealing wDating app on cell phoneith the pain of rejection? Why, dating sites, of course. I immediately typed the pincode into my phone and downloaded the application that allowed me to live-chat with singles in the area. It wasn’t long before I was being flirty over text messages and eating up all the complimentary things that these guys were saying (in order, of course, to get into my pants). The time was now 1 am,which was well past my bedtime. Turning off the ringer on my phone and swallowing a couple sleeping pills, I fell into a vacant slumber.

The next morning I groggily woke up to several inappropriate messages from men who I didn’t care to hear from. I immediately trashed the app, regret settling in the pit of my stomach, as though I was a college student who had made a drunken mistake the night before.

A new text message appeared on the screen. My heart sank. It was him. “Listen, I realize that you’re angry with me, but please don’t put pictures of our kids up on dating sites like you did last night.”

I was the bad guy now. “Sorry. I didn’t realize [in my black-out rage]. It has been taken care of, so you needn’t be concerned.” I thought for a moment, “How did you know about the pictures I used anyway? Do you have access to my phone or something?”

“No, no. I have an account with that site from a while ago. I saw you on it.”

“So, let me get this straight: you have a wife, a girlfriend, and an account on a dating site? You’re quite a catch.” Strangely enough, I didn’t hear back.

Attempting Contentedness (2)

“Let’s put on some music.” I declared, suddenly snapping out of my own imagination. I was hoping for a mutual, even excited, response from my kids.

“I guess.” Avery responded. Hunter didn’t even acknowledge that I had spoken. They were both such charmers in the morning. Delighted in the knowledge that I could turn on the radio without fear of waking anyone, I tuned it to a kids’ station and got to work making the rest of breakfast.

breakfast cereal

“Can I have waffles too?” Hunter asked while slurping the milk from his cereal bowl.

This had been my husband’s job, giving our children breakfast. Now, however, the task had become mine, and damned if I wasn’t going to be the best cereal-pourer, waffle-toaster, orange-juice-provider that ever lived. “Sure honey!” Hearing my own voice, I realized that I definitely needed to tone down the enthusiasm. “Av, what would you like?”

She looked at me for a solid 13 seconds before sluggishly answering. “Cereal.” I smiled at my little girl. Her mood would change soon, as it always did. Then it would change again. And again. And again. Living with my 5-year-old daughter now was a good indicator of the hormonal whirlwind that I would endure in her teenage years. I would not let her wear me down, though. My positive attitude would prove to them, prove to him, prove to me that I could do this. I could do it well. I would wear that positive shit like a bulletproof vest, because nothing was going to get to me.

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Attempting Contentedness (1)

digital clockMy eyes fluttered open and I looked up at the ceiling where my new, high-tech (to me, anyway) clock projected the time across its facade. The red numbers revealed the early-morning hour as 4 am. Too early to start my day, I decided. Turning my head, I had expected to see his sleeping face next to mine, but the bed was empty, save for me and a few blue shams that were still in place from the day before. Huh, I thought, he’s usually in here by now. It was at that moment that I heard footsteps trudging down the hallway, then the door was pushed open and slammed shut unapologetically. I heard a grunt as he climbed up the foot of the bed, but the first thing I gazed upon was his white stuffed whale that flew from his hands and ricocheted off the headboard before finally settling down on my face. It was a nice start to the day. Hunter’s sleepy, yet maddened little face came into view next. “Hey! That’s mine!” he said, snatching the beluga off me, as though I had been keeping him captive there.

“Yup, babe. Now go back to sleep.” He nodded, then mushed his face so that it was exactly one centimeter from mine. “Hi. Did you want to move over a bit?”

“Nope,” he quietly said, before yawning and closing his eyes, allowing sleep to take him. I looked at his angelic little face and tried to memorize it, so the image could be recalled in my mind later in the day when his behavior became less than heavenly.

Trying to get back into dream-world was futile, as thoughts (most of which had never been contemplated before and/or were completely unwarranted) crept into my cognition. Deciding that the morning was inevitable, I swung my legs over the side of the bed, allowing my bare toes to touch the carpet. Careful not to wake my sleeping child, I slowly stood up in the darkness, and stumbled over to the bathroom to brush my teeth. The bright vanity lights felt like daggers to my still-adjusting eyes.

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Independence

In my family room, amongst the watercolor landscapes painted by my grandmother and carefully placed portraits of my children, is a shadow box, within which is a circular plastic pig from a children’s board game.

“Why the hell did you put that there?” is a question often posed by my dear, and so incredibly refined, friends.

“I, single-handedly, pulled it from the hose of the vacuum cleaner, so it now works.” I announce triumphantly.

“Umm…so?”

**********

I’ve fixed things before. I’ve completed tasks on my own. I’ve independently lifted heavy boxes, painted walls, and carried cumbersome objects up the stairs. For some reason, however, this silly task resonated with me. It represented my self-reliance, because when I was able to take that stupid hose out of the stupid vacuum cleaner, discover the stupid piece from the game, and fish the stupid thingy out of there, I was the victor. There may have been no one there to hand over a blue ribbon, but I knew in my heart that I became the champion of my own independence that day. So that small, red pig? That’s my sovereignty, and it hangs on my wall with pride.Independence is a pig from children's game

His Neck

His Neck
I had gotten a look at Hunter as I peered in at his peaceful, sleeping face.

Suddenly, in the shadowy darkness, he looked to me, not like a chubby-cheeked toddler, but like a handsome young adult. Self-sufficient. Able. At some point, he would no longer be my tiny monkey, who needs me for everything: pouring cereal, putting on socks, kissing boo-boos. Though I knew this vision was just a figment, it resonated with me.

My insides wept at the knowledge that time moves forward.

I gazed upon his skinny little neck. To me it felt soft, smooth, and fragile beneath my lips as I doused him in kisses. How does it hold up such a head as his; a cranium that grew out of hats by the time he hit his third birthday? In time his neck would expand. It would become thicker and more able to hold the weight.

I could just hope that the weight inside his brain wouldn’t become too heavy- too much to bear.

Although I have dealt with the fact that time moves forward for me, why does it insist of taking my children too?

Great Catch

endless laundry for a mom

singlesmeetup.com:

36-year-old, recently divorced mother of two young children, the youngest of which, at 4, tends to tantrum about seemingly trite everyday occurrences, the older, more mature first-grader gravitates toward a more dictatorial attitude.

Diagnosed a few years ago with Multiple Sclerosis, my symptoms are not too severe, often coming about when overly muscle-fatigued, and resembling a college student stumbling into her dorm room after a heavy night of drinking.

My interests include watching stupid and mindless comedies on tv, playing games with my kids, and hanging out with my friends over good food.

What I actually do is laundry.

Where do you fit in? Well, you can start by helping me with all this damned laundry. Or, you could donate enough money that I could hire someone to do it for me. Oh- and long walks on the beach (actually, scratch that… sounds incredibly boring).

That’s it. That’s me.

– GreatCatch79

I slid my laptop over to Jenn, who quietly looked over the contents of my profile. Perturbed, she exhaled. “I knew you weren’t taking this seriously!”

I put on my best offended face.

“What do you mean?”

“You know exactly what I’m talking about, Kir. Now cut the crap and be sane for once. If you were to think like an eligible bachelor, what would you want to see?”

“Boobs.”

“Ugh. I hate you right now.”

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Souvenir

It was just a cheesy magnet bought at the airport. My refrigerator isn’t even magnetic.
A beach scene.
A palm tree.
The word “Florida,” in purple script stretches across the seascape, floating like a buoy on the water.

My eyes fill up with a thousand droplets of tiny tears that spill out onto my face. “Mommy! We missed you! We got you a present!” My babies are home, after being away with their Dad for the past six days, the longest I’ve ever been away from them. Avery and Hunter look bigger, somehow, which tells me that when I picture them I do so as littler than I should. “Here,” my older one says, “you can put it on the fridge.”

Florida beach scene

I take the tiny souvenir, a smile on my face, despite the fact that I’ll have to tape it on there if I want it to stick; despite the tears that are now staining my cheeks; despite the pain that I feel when I have to look at the magnet and am reminded of the time that they left me. “Thanks, guys!” I yell, overcompensating for the hurt.

I am going to have to find a place to stash the stupid magnet. If I put it in the drawer under my bed, will they notice its sudden disappearance? Probably not. School, activities, friends, these things will all take precedence in their minds, and they most likely won’t even remember. God, I hope not.

I hug my kids. They are finally home.