Tag Archives: single mom

Mother’s Day Lament

Standard
Mother’s Day Lament

There is little that compares to the emptiness I feel on Mother’s Day morning. My children remember me and bring coffee and love notes. Friends and family send kind words. And yet, it is one of the hardest days of the year because of what feels like it is missing: The expectation of what I thought motherhood would be.
I thought I would be a better mother, more organized, more nurturing, better at caring for the little darlings that I brought into the world. I thought I’d make more chore charts and handmade yarn mittens, I thought I’d coach more after school sports, or at least bring more orange slices. I thought I’d plan more Harry Potter themed birthday parties complete with talking sorting hats and brooms strung from the ceiling with fishing line. I thought I’d be tired less and self evolved less. I thought I’d kill fewer indoor plants, outdoor herbs and tropical fish. I thought I’d rescue more kites from trees and find more lost cats and shoes and important papers. I thought I’d do more, do it more smoothly and with less shouting. I’d kiss more and yell less.
I once believed it was my destiny to be a wife and mother. I’d be the best at both, a natural by virtue of the sheer quantity of good mothers and wives that I observed in fiction and reality alike. I saw and read about great mothers, doing mother things with ease and delight. But, I didn’t hear much about the loneliness of motherhood, the bone shaking doubt, the crippling fear of utter incompetence that accompanies caring for other human beings. The ache a mother feels at caring so deeply for her children. The feeling that I am simultaneously the most influential and the least competent person to tend to the needs of these tiny humans.
The list of hurts a mom is faced with managing is long. There are bees and nighttime terrors that coincide with an overwhelming need for sleep or just to be alone with my own thoughts. There are skinned knees and, worse, the pains that you can’t see, that you can’t measure because they are invisible and indeed so much more insidious. Heartbreaks, stomach aches, late night fears that keep you awake wondering if you’ve made a huge mistake. Sure I try my best, even in the tired moments, but it seldom feels adequate. And there are no real breaks.
There are good times, to be sure. They are frequently more plentiful than the trying times. There’s laughter and joy. And there are mundane, average Tuesdays where everyone just floats along, lunches get made in peace and dogs sleep quietly and dishes get put away without nagging. There are moments that reach in and grab your soul because you could just burst with pride and elation over the beautiful human being you contributed to creating and raising. Sometimes I feel as though my heart will break with delight because I see in my daughters a reflection of the parts of me that are decent and pure. And the special bond we get because of what we have been through together. The pains and triumphs that are ours alone to understand, glue us tightly together.
But the real kick you in the teeth pain bee sting in your ear slap in the face of Mother’s Day is that I thought it would be a partnership. This day is a reminder that I thought I was standing in one line, signing up for a specific class, agreeing to a particular arrangement, and I was not. Like so many women, in so many circumstances, we are left alone on the heavy end of the see saw. We stopped playing man to man defense, or even zone defense and realized the rest of the team had already left on the bus.
I admit, there is a village around my daughters and I. People who care for us in amazing and selfless ways, people without whom the ship would sink for sure. And that makes me more fortunate than some. It offers an advantage which I cannot fathom being without. Because even with help, it is the hardest challenge I have ever endured. Because in the deepest part of the night, when I am weary from the days and weeks, when one of my daughters comes to me with a broken heart and I reach deep down and try to find an answer that will satisfy her, will heal up her wound and at the same time allow me to go back to my own tumultuous mind. Because no one else can be there for that or can even really assure me that I’ve done the best I can. Because it is the loneliest job I will ever both love and doubt. For these reasons, I wish there was no yearly reminder that I am a mother.
It’s the loneliness that kills me. And the self doubt. It’s the quiet, though disgruntled, inner voice that suggests that the universe has made a terrible error in allowing me to be the sole caretaker for the minds, bodies and souls of these tremendous human beings. Most days, I feel like barely more than an adolescent myself. And the sheer irony that I’m managing all of this alone, is the cherry on top of a macabre sundae. Just because I planned on doing this as a team is not a way out.
As always, I’m thankful for the little things, the little victories, and the big support we get from our community. I’m thankful for inside jokes and love notes, and unsolicited thank yous. I thankful for an understanding partner who walks home in the early morning hours to make room for sleepy interlopers. I am thankful to friends who send lovely supportive words. But mostly, I am thankful that tomorrow there are 364 days until Mother’s Day.

2001: A Full Shining Lolita

Standard
2001:  A Full Shining Lolita

As I lounge, with my purple cast propped on a pillow, looking over the chaos that has erupted in my house in the last 24-48 hours, I realize what I normally do all day; Clear Cheerios off the counter, close boxes of crackers, throw away Puddin’ Pouches, put stray forks and spoons into the dishwasher, rinse dishes, feed the forgotten animals. My home looks like the scene in the movie after the girl has broken up with the guy and he holes himself up in his living room, surrounded by pizza boxes and empty whiskey bottles. Shades pulled, he reclusively resides amongst a sea of damp towels, waded up newspapers and filthy socks.
Breaking a body part, particularly one of the ones you use for propulsion, forces you to face the world from a particular point of view. One that is slower, lower and less capable than you were even the instant before you stepped ineptly on the uneven sidewalk in your impractical shoes. Even the most simplistic task becomes a chore of such gargantuan proportions that you spend significant time contemplating if it’s completion holds enough value to bother. Whatever is not near you suddenly feels launched into a universe that is too distant to comprehend; approximately the location of the horse head nebula. And walking up a flight of stairs has never before been appreciated for the sheer accomplishment that it is, nor has the defeat of realizing my toothbrush is three floors up ever been so poignant. Also, I don’t feel terrible about eating a handful of Bac’N Buds because they were left on the coffee table and therefore are in arm’s reach. And you should know, I’m not particularly good at accepting help. So I’ll just enjoy this new (albeit temporary) perspective on life.
A relatively minor injury, like breaking an ankle while,well, walking, isn’t such a big thing. It will be a delineation of a particular era; “oh that party happened right after I broke my ankle” , or ” oh! That’s right, I couldn’t drive then because of my ankle.” But mostly it only gives me these few moments to experience life from my sofa, or to gather perspective teetering atop a pair of crutches. But it’s important to remember it could be worse. There was no surgery, no metal pins, my toes are free, it’s only 2-3 weeks. I am a survivor and figuring out how to accomplish these mundane tasks is a challenge I’m willing to accept. Except showering, that’s just the dream of a crazy person.
There’s an interpretation of these recent events that practically writes a Stanley Kubrick flick. Particularly when you fold in the swarm of lethargic bees, which I’ll address a bit later, who have invaded my bedroom. This bedroom is tragically, on the third floor. Laid up from the simple act of walking, unable to drive single mom of three, her house infested with bees- slow bees-lays wrapped inside a single blanket on the cold porch, her wild eyes searching the landscape as her calf twitches inside her cast.
But I think there’s more humor to be found here than tragedy. For example, I’ve been using my bra as a carrying pouch. And I “butt-scootched” up the steps to the third floor, only to become so comically panicked that the house would catch on fire or that the slow-moving bees would leisurely surround my bed and form a bee beard on my face while I laid powerlessly on my back, that I had to make the disagreeable, protracted trek back down the stairs. And watching me try to maneuver this iPad out onto the porch was comic gold. Imagine a one armed sea otter learning to juggle for the first time. Mistakes were made. Comedy happened.
I’ve given up on my appearance almost entirely. I am very interested in purchasing those sweatpants that unbutton down the side. I think athletes wear them so they can rip them off in a moment’s notice to go jump in the game. I’d like the option of awkwardly tearing them off so I can pee. Earlier I did splash some water on my face as I stood wobbling over the bathroom sink. But even that feels inadequate, although difficult, enough to not even be worth it. My daughter brought me a warm dish towel to encourage me to at least rinse off, but as I slowly become more entrenched in the sofa, it just seems like an act with no meaning. Comically without meaning, of course.
And here is perhaps the most comic part of all, the person who is so graceful that she fell while walking, is now forced to encounter the world while precariously balancing on one foot. Her counterbalance a heavy, non weight bearing purple cast. Just try not to laugh when I have to pick up a sock off of the floor or when I try to suddenly change directions or when I tear off my athletic pants like a one-legged stripper during a Sunday matinee.
There is often comedy in tragic situations and it’s certainly better for my psyche to view it through this lens. Besides, I’ll have lots of time to write and catch up on some reading. Who doesn’t enjoy forced down time? Now you’ll have to pardon me, I’m planning to watch A Clockwork Orange, it’s just so relatable.

Love as dark matter

Standard
Love as dark matter

It’s 3am, the dog is barking at what might be a serial killer or a simple burglar, or a leaf. A lanky teenager occupies the space next to me in bed and a bleary-eyed preteen hovers over me. I don’t really care which reason the dog is barking, or why these interlopers are here, I just long for a peaceful night’s sleep, which I can’t remember having in my adult life. The little wants to cuddle so badly that she makes a move like she’s going to just curl up uncomfortably on the prickly rug that is next to my bed. I angrily jump out of bed, cursing, to all who will listen. Storm down the stairs declaring that this is the last GD time this is going to happen, these are children after all, not infant triplets. Why won’t they go the F to sleep?
I am not good at cuddling, I do it out of guilty obligation and an overwhelming belief that it is a short term solution to the nightly interruptions of what is already fitful sleep. It must feel that way to my girls, or maybe I fool them, or maybe touch feels the same whether it is begrudging or mutual.
One of the dirty aspects of being a single parent is that you are always on duty. Day, night, sickness, health, tired, angry or hungry. It’s hard for everyone to get their needs met in any meaningful way, I offer love and support of the drive-thru variety. It’s quick, it’s low quality and it’s offered through a window as you pass by. I can’t imagine what it’s like to be on the other side of the equation. To have needs that you’ve recognized are going to remain unmet, or in the best-case scenario, met primarily in moments of crisis. Of deep hunger or hurt. It’s unsatisfying for both parties.
Still we muddle through, catch love, or sleep when we are able and frankly periodically experience the kind of wealth that you can only appreciate if you’ve been disadvantaged.
This is how we are. Doing the best we all can under strained conditions. And, speaking of wealth, we are fortunate that in the hierarchy of needs, we are in search of satiating our emotional needs. We have the luxuries of other wealth, but emotional poverty is powerful and debilitating in ways that often feel more immeasurable.
Fortunately, I’ve discovered that I am extraordinarily adept at responding to some emotions, even the ones that erupt in the deep darkness of the night. Anger is easier than sadness for me. And sickness is permissible, though not welcomed. Apparently there is a law that states that if a child is going to vomit, it will be around 3am and it will soil every piece of bedding they are near and probably divert away from hardwood floors to land on carpet. But I don’t manage the fears of my children particularly well. Partly because the only way I know how to overcome fear, is to ignore the source of it. Whether that is thunder, or nightmares, or just the fears that curl up with you as you fall asleep and rattle you awake in the middle of the night.
Sometimes saying, ” Everything is all right.” Is the worst possible answer when everything feels not all right. But in the sleep deprived state that these fears often arise, they are the only words that rise to be spoken, that and “Go back to sleep.” And apparently, ” God dammit”. Which now that I think of it is probably a worse response than ” Go back to sleep. ” nothing like having your childhood fears be a catalyst for your only parent’s anger.
And the worst part is, if I could find breath in those moments, enough breath to squeeze past the expletives and just put my arms around them and give them the tiny gesture they need to feel secure, I know it could be better, better for everyone probably. But what I find instead is guilt over not being able to conjure that breath, frustration over my inability to fulfill this expectation.
These are the realities of being a part of this life. This life where I’m underperforming my own expectations of what is minimally acceptable, even in the states of sleep deprivation. Where the tension is not in being unaware of what would make things better, but in being too emotionally tired to accomplish them. It is the pain of watching your children having to suffer through what cannot possibly be enough. And what is not their fault.

And it is the knowledge that we will all survive these circumstances, and some days not only survive, but thrive. This life can also be about understanding need, hardship and doing without in a way that creates a situation where we are able to appreciate the infrequent riches of love and selflessness. This life can be about valuing the brief and uncommon cuddle. This life is a space where love is in the guilt of inability rather than the wealth of stability.
We can all long for the lives that we do not have. We can lament the absence, of not just highest success, but of nominal satisfaction. Certainly we can strive to be better and apologize when we fall phenomenally short, but we can also spot the upside of loss and the advantage of deprivation.

The opposite of everything

Standard
The opposite of everything

I’ve just returned from a week long vacation in Costa Rica with my three daughters and a family friend, who came along to provide additional adult support. I can’t really remember what it is like to travel as a traditional family (meaning two adults in a committed relationship and children). I’ve seen travel brochures, those people seem ridiculously happy, and I can’t help but fantasize about that brochure vacation…
Everyone’s smiling and eating mangos, our perfectly tanned, beautiful bodies are laying poolside as an equally happy waiter serves my charming husband and I fruity adult beverages. The children laugh and frolic in ocean waves, or slide down pristine slides. The weather is a delightful 80 degrees, even the birds seem happy just to fly through the air that we breathe. Later, the children urge my husband and I to take a walk on the beach as the sunsets. We dance and laugh in the waves. Everything is perfect. Absolutely perfect.
There are no meltdowns, no bee stings, no budget concerns, no tears, no moping, no sun-screened eyeballs, no fights over restaurants, no rationalizing the cost of a bottle of water, no bargaining for alone time, no messy bathrooms, or clogged toilets, or stomach viruses. There are no impoverished neighborhoods as you drive out of town, no stray dogs, no trash, no rainy days and no single parents.
There is certainly a gap between fantasy and reality, for all of us. Vacations (like holidays) hold a lot of pressure, because you are SUPPOSED to be having fun, frolicking, smiling and laughing. And you’ve invested a fair amount of money ( as well as taking time to plan and taking time away from work and household duties) to ENSURE that everyone is having a fun, PERFECT time. But life goes on whether you are at home or abroad. People get tired and grumpy and irritated. You can leave your home behind, but not your idiosyncrasies, your dysfunctions, your communication issues.
I’m fortunate. I can choose to go on vacation. I can afford to take all three of my daughters and we have a lot of choice in what we do. We can eat delicious food and see monkeys up close and I can send my daughter to zip line through the rain forest. And we make memories, some of them involve bee stings and sickness and crying and some of them involve the generosity of strangers and the kindness of siblings and the laughter we generate over sliding on a tile floor in my frictionless flip flops. These are our stories.
I doubt I will ever have the kind of vacation that brochures are made of, nor will most of us. But the opposite of everything, isn’t nothing. It’s something. Something that is beautiful in its imperfections, it’s struggles, it’s messiness. It’s something that whether I am in my own home or across the equator I get to keep. It is my beautiful, broken, dysfunctional family. I don’t love every minute, but I do love the whole thing.

Closure

Standard
Closure

Dating still has to be the most bizarre creation we’ve come up with in society. Seems like everyone is trying to get into a relationship, get out of a relationship or get over a relationship. And very often it seems we are trying to do all three at the same time. But I’ve accepted the yolk of responsibility and I’m trying to remember it’s a learning experience and as m’lynn said, ” that which does not kill us, makes us stronger.”
Apparently, I’m learning, I’m very eager to trust my instincts, open and honest to a fault and fairly delusional. Meaning, if I were a hunter, I’d probably be slaughtered by a rabid deer, because I had stopped to feed it berries. Fortunately, I’m not hunting for food and I’m up to date on all my shots. This is to say only this about the squirrel taxidermist with whom I spent a few weeks, sometimes it’s best to just accept that yes, I am kinda judgey and frankly, I have no idea what I’m doing.
So I’m just hoping that with quantity, eventually I’ll figure it all out. But know this, it’s brutal and I’m on something of a time restraint. I’m trying to squeeze in all this learning between raising three girls alone, a couple or twenty jobs and a couple or twenty hobbies, and oh yeah that whole grieving healing thing. It’s like binge watching a bunch of documentaries on relationships and then trying to pass a 200 page exam all in a few hours. Mistakes are being made. And I’d love to be able to just give up and become a hermit (which my friend M and I concede is frequently the only answer when things get tough). But I like people, and I’m discovering more and more, that though I’m very proficient at being alone, it’s lonely.
So, I’m going back up to bat, with what must be a very bad batting average ( is 3 a bad batting average? I don’t follow baseball.) God, now all I can think of are ball throwing analogies. So, I’ll get back on the horse, or the bicycle, or out where the fish are in the sea and cast my rod of love. Ok evidently my relationship troubles are affecting my ability to come up with proper descriptions of my relationship troubles. But you probably grasp that I’m not giving up, not because of a few cat herders (actually just one), because I am gaining so much knowledge about who I am in relation to other people. And that is what will thrust me into the sea of passion, no-catapult me into the crockpot of love stew, no- wedge me in the soft-spot on the cradle cap of love.
Well, clearly this is a process, and I’m not where I want to be, but I’m getting there and hopefully I don’t get downed by rabid woodland creatures in the interim.

Management 101

Standard
Management 101

Love is a fickle bitch. You think she’d just recognize an amazing person and then settle in for a lifetime of romantic montages. But no, apparently she has a twisted sense of humor instead.
Part of the joy? of dating the second time around is figuring out what it is I want as a grown up and recognizing what I can’t manage. Which to the casual observer might obviously be something very different than what I wanted when I was in my early 20s. For me, that has taken some trial and error to figure out. And frankly, what exactly this is seems to be something of an enigma still.
Maybe love was just simpler in the 90s, all those John Hughes films from the 80s had fueled a fairly concrete picture of who I should spend my life with–Emilio Estevez. Or some other jock with a heart of gold. Or perhaps I’m making it more difficult than it needs to be.
Somehow the part of me that longs for a slow motion run into the arms of a shirtless hero won’t reconcile with a weirdly practical sense of time management. Meaning- I’m a busy woman and I’m no longer looking to build a family with someone. I have a family, and for the most part I fear that the nuclear family ship has sailed for me. I suppose what I mean is, I’m raising my babies and I can’t seem to make room for anyone else to do that with me.
So I’m just like, regular dating, whatever that means, but on the side of being a single parent. So the scenario is like this, I’m dating, but I’ve got three roommates ages 14, 12 and 9. And they are less like roommates and more like nagging wives. ” why are you never home? “, ” why don’t you ever take me out?”, “how come you never get dressed up for me?”, ” but you get to see your friends at work all the time. “.
Never a day off–ever. I’m phenomenally lucky to be able to afford a regular babysitter/nanny/hired wife. She’s wonderful, but she can’t be a second parent no matter how great she is. She’s more like a big sister in that way. And the girls let me know it. Plus they spend a lot of time assuming I’ll never come back if I leave, so I get it. It’s complicated.
I might have mentioned that this struggle is just one in a long line of how do I participate in life as a grown up, who’s not entirely “grown-up”, be a parent and role model, and make space for me as a single lady. Imagine that the majority of your social interactions are being scrutinized by a trio of people who know you very well in one specific way, but collectively have the emotional maturity of kimmy Schmidt. Imagine your employees live with you, are dependent on you and feel very free to share with you how disappointing you are to them as a boss. By the way, you cannot fire them.
I’m not really complaining. I do love my daughters intensely and recognize that we are in this pickle vat together. We keep each other afloat. And when they are busy and happy, they don’t much mind that I work, or even go out for a drink with friends.
So it’s just part of where I am, which I never imagined I’d be. I’ve never really been great at thinking stuff through, I mean seriously, Emilio Estevez ? I was way more Anthony Michael Hall’s type anyway.

Alone time

Standard
Alone time

Recognizing that I am the emotional equivalent of an appliance crash and dent sale has set me free to spend some time on my own. Much like Pee Wee Herman, I am a self-proclaimed “loner and a rebel”. Perhaps exactly like Pee Wee Herman, minus the uber bike. But it’s an unusual station for me, I’ve always been in pursuit of coupling, looking at every available man as the opportunity to fulfill my destiny and uncover my soul mate. I could hardly breathe at local bars playing out relationships from meeting, through the fabulous vacation to Aruba, to the romantic top of the Eiffel Tower proposal, to the horrible gut wrenching break up that sent me seeking refuge in the arms of a my new friend Jimmy Fallon, who I’d met in a chance collision in a local subway restaurant while he was passing through to visit family in Florida.
To be sure, being a single mom of three (nearly all) teenage daughters limits my free time. Coupled with my introverted side ( yes I am a 50/50 balance of introvert and extrovert, which means I love the idea of going out but am typically panicking inside when faced with a one on one conversation) and the fact that I grew up an only child, I’m fairly comfortable with alone time. Sometimes I actually get a little itchy without alone time. I’ve also adapted to living alone so well that I’m not certain I could ever co-habitate again. Every one of my closets is full and I might have mentioned in the past that I like to sleep frozen in the jumping jack position and I require 4 pillows, two on each side so as I roll around in the night I can lay on any of them. There’s not much room for a partner unless they have a California king-sized bed, or a mother in law suite.
Maybe all of this is really just a way to justify my current situation, including an appalling lack of emotional empathy and a self-centered ness that I haven’t embraced so completely since I was 2 years old. Besides, dating is an awkward sport, best suited for pretty people who are great at small talk. I’m more of a “hello, here’s your awkward hug, do you mind if I randomly speak in a British accent while telling you about my vast knowledge of Wizard of oz trivia”. I’m probably going to end up being an old cat lady with really great abs, a penchant for a decent Pinot Noir and a vast knowledge of Netflix shows. That’s fine, I’m not ready to share my closets yet anyway.

Feel the rain on your skin

Standard
Feel the rain on your skin

Sometimes when things aren’t quite as I want them, I get impatient for the next phase of life. The phase when I roll over on a Sunday morning to greet the warm smile of my beloved. The phase where I am sharing the burdens and joys of maintaining a household. The phase that starts with the mad rush into embracing vulnerability, the appreciation of the available kiss, treasuring the smell of skin. The phase that drifts into regularly talking to another adult.
No doubt, being a single parent is lonely. I’m not alone, I have friends. And I’m not complaining, just saying. It is lonely. So there’s an opportunity to embrace my present life circumstances. When I’m focused on the joys of my current situation my mind says something like this…wasn’t it delightful to sleep in the jumping jack position, remember how last night you didn’t have to ask anyone if they wanted to go to parkway brewery, and that when you were ready to come home, you just did, no compromise, no long drawn out, “well, what do you want to do? Well what do you want to do? Well…” . My closets are full, all of them, with my stuff. My bathroom is the exact amount of clean I want it to be. I spend money how I want, choose how to spend my free time, listen to my music. The seat in my car is always adjusted to my height.
Welcoming someone into my little world would change things. I like eating cheese sauce for dinner. Sometimes I only want to get dressed to work out and not actually work out. There is a process that my clothing goes through, only a very brief part is being clean and folded in the drawer. Occasionally I snore more like a congested truck driver and less like a lady. I vacillate between not being sure where the window seat in my bathroom is and needing the whole house to smell like bleach. There are times I want to lay in bed until noon playing puzzle forge-Alone!, and times I want to get up at 6am and think about how the plot of the wizard of oz relates to my life. Periodically I like to dance like no one’s watching, knowing that people are watching.
So you can see, it would be quite a compromise to give up cheese for dinner in order to have the daily love and support of another adult human being. I’m not rationalizing, life is good. Just different than it will be someday. And while I’ll miss taking up my queen size bed and not finding beard hair in my sink, I’m kinda looking forward to it.

Premature rejection

Standard
Premature rejection

There are several things that everyone should have to do, in my humble opinion, in order to grasp the reality of being human. First off, Everyone should have to wait tables, it demonstrates how incredibly needy and self-involved people can be when they have empty water glasses. C’mon how GD important is a lime really?
Second, everyone should experience intense, horrifying loss, this could be a job, a loved one, a house. The good (?) news is life provides this one for virtually everyone. It sounds like a terrible wish for humankind, but it’s essential for growth. There’s tons of other things, but I’ve got to get my kids to school today…so finally, I believe every person should have to date as an adult. Bonus points if you are a single parent. Want humility? Date. Want to learn to deal with rejection? Date. Want to try to nonchalantly remove fish taco sauce from your cleavage? Date.
When I was seventeen and I waited by the phone, there was just the phone to be silent. Now there’s phone, text, email, snapchat, Facebook, Twitter and the occasional my space, to be silent. Are there rules? Cause I can’t decipher them. I’m afraid of calling too soon and appearing to be a stalker, waiting too late and losing my (what I can only imagine is a laser thin) window of opportunity. Is the day long silence a direct result of that joke I made about Ebola? Or because I didn’t at least offer to pay? I can be cool, get busy with other activities. Wait. I could just awkwardly pretend to watch Friends reruns instead of checking my phone, iPad and computer every 15 seconds. I like to imagine, that despite my awkwardness I offer a certain charm and delight, but getting a second date seems harder than getting rednecks to understand the Affordable Heath Care Act.
Rejection can feel so final, like your last meal in prison. Eff this up and it’s the last time anyone ever compliments your sweater. I keep telling myself that this could be fun, relax, enjoy, but sometimes dating feels about as fun as a calculus test written in Latin.
Wanna “what if” with me? What if that WAS the last time anyone ever complimented my sweater? What if I just blew my one chance because there is tarter sauce on my boob? What if the guy I should actually be with is the guy I passed up? What if the only guy that will ever ask me out is the one wearing fake deer antlers in his match.com profile picture? What if awkward is the new cool? Huh. See what I did there?
I think rejection is nature’s way of saying, “next!”. I’ve had the great joy of having some really amazing relationships since Chris’ death, with really great (and equally awkward guys) and it wasn’t a struggle to keep up with them. It was actually pretty flawless, not in the sense that I never had kale stuck in my teeth, just in the sense that it was ok if I did.
Rejection sucks, and feels bad and makes you wonder where your next “meal” is coming from, but aren’t we better off if the mistakes just keep on moving out of our lives. If time has proven anything it’s that I am not getting any smoother in my maturity, so I had best stop looking for someone to make me cooler and instead look for someone to match my awkward.

Just the tip

Standard
Just the tip

Dating as a grownup is…how shall I put it, mortifying. It’s like I’m still in junior high school, and yet I own a house. I have zits and wrinkles and an audience comprised of the trio of girls that I gave birth to. You think your friends in jr high could embarrass you, meet my daughters. My daughters think it’s hilarious that I date. They like to sing that ” mom and SO and so sitting in a tree” and say ” is he your boyfriend?” like Heather from “Heathers”. On the odd occasion that I might walk outside our house to say goodnight, they sit, faces pressed against the window giggling and then ambush me when I return. It’s like I’m always at a sleepover. I hope they don’t put my bra in the freezer.
Peanut gallery aside, I don’t know the rules of dating anymore. Do I pay? Does he pay? Honestly I think I’ve been on one “date” in about a year and when the bill arrived I panicked. Do I reach for it? Should I lunge for it like a jungle panther, smile smugly. I’m a modern woman. Does that threaten his masculinity? Maybe I should just throw it onto the floor like a flaming idol and see who dives for it first. Fortunately my date grabbed it pretty quickly and directly. But I felt more panicked. It feels weird for someone to buy me food in exchange for conversation. So I awkwardly mumbled thank you, like it was an embarrassing secret that he had paid. Now, do I offer to pay for the tip? Words felt like cotton in my mouth. What’s wrong with me? Maybe I’m having a stroke, a money issue induced stroke. He’s counting money, I looked away as though he’s looking at a pornographic picture. I considered tossing money on the table as though he’s a cheap hooker, or like it fell from the sky. That’s it I’ll throw a five on the table then look up at the sky with equal parts amazement and dumbfounded-ness.
That’s when I realized that my date is standing next to the table asking if I need help with my coat. I wondered if there was drool on my chin and then fumbled for my coat. He was still talking normally as though my life hadn’t just flashed before my eyes. Maybe he didn’t notice.
He walked me to the car where we stood weirdly far from each other and he said perhaps we could do it again. In retrospect I imagine he was just trying to figure out a polite way to leave that did not involve breaking into a sprint. However, I was still a little woozy from the whole paying thing, so, I nodded or grunted. And before I had to have a new breakdown over what to do with my hands, which were currently holding a to-go box full of a salad that I would never eat, he walked away. He didn’t even end the date with a pat on the back. I guess he noticed.
Well if I ever do go on another date I will offer to pay, but just the tip.