Today I read this post about a woman with three boys who often says she's "single-mommin' it."
As a single mom with no single mom friends, it's hard to find someone who really gets it when it comes to how hard it really is.
I started reading her post and got to the part about how her husband is a surgeon and I wanted to throw something at her. I literally pictured picking up a heavy ashtray (if I had one) and zinging it like a Frisbee at her head. She has financial support and a soft place to fall and because she's on her own while her husband's making rounds, she thinks that's the equivalent of being a single mom?! Go fuck yourself...you have no idea.
I kept reading as I formed my response in my head. I was going to let this woman have it. A person can't truly know of the sacrifices and struggles when you have financial help and a soft place to fall.
Then her post took a different tone. She acknowledges that having financial support and someone she can call when something happens and just knowing that person is there means she has no idea what single-mommin' it is really like.
Instead I need to happily thank her for the acknowledgment.
I've been on my own with mine for 15 years. I tried relationships early on but everyone tries to parent your kid (she already has two, thankyouverymuch) or the non-parents feel the need to judge how you parent. And, frankly, my partner picker is out of whack. I made a conscious decision to go it alone. I didn't want her to see someone in my bed only to find out later it didn't work out as I search for the next. I had to think 10 years into the future and take the steps necessary to prevent her being a hormonal teen and thinking sex with various partners was normal.
Overall in life it is normal to some degree, but I couldn't set the tone for her teenage years. I knew if I had a teen who was having random sex with everyone she "thinks" she likes or loves, that had the potential for disaster. Plus I'd be sitting in prison for running someone over with my car.
Instead I hope my daughter sees a strong woman who did everything she could to ensure her daughter had everything she needed. Maybe not everything she wanted when she wanted it, but who loved and encouraged her even when the wind had been knocked out of her Mom's sails the way life does sometimes. I showed her that no matter what, you can get back on your feet and go it alone and be just fine.
I had to weigh the possibility that I might not be able to show her what a healthy adult relationship looks like - she has nothing to model it after. But I taught her how to be in a healthy relationship with herself and with family. I've taught her self-respect. I've showed her that even in the worst of times when you're crying and think you're at the end of your rope, you still get up and take life on one day at a time.
I won't know until she's 30 and has kids of her own if I did it right. But this single mom is okay with the decisions she made and while not everyone will understand or agree with my choices, they're mine. And until you are one, you don't get flap your jibs.
Single-mommin' it? Scary Mommy has no idea.
Friday, November 08, 2013
This stupid menopause has me feeling so sleepy all the time I can hardly stand it.
I slept from 8:30 last night until 6 a.m. today. It's now 9:55 a.m. and I can hardly hold my eyes open. It's as though I can feel the hormones draining out of my body. And here's the kicker...this isn't even the worst part of it yet.
It's like when you give birth. My little sister told me to give birth with dignity and not be one of those women who you can hear screaming down the halls. I vowed to her and to myself not to be that woman. Then you get in there and the action starts and suddenly it's like holy shit. What the fuck have I done?! There's no way around what's coming!
The contractions hit and you work your way through them. Focal point, breathing, someone there whose hand you're about to break because they offered it and thought they were helping. Little did they know that the inside of your body has turned into The Terminator with titanium rods and gears and the ability to reshape anvils into rosebuds.
Then you have to start pushing and that's a whole other level of deep, searing pain. Aside from the commitment I had made to my sister, I didn't scream because you experience so many levels of pain that you don't want to waste a scream on what isn't the worst pain yet.
You push and think it can't get any worse than this, can it? and then you breathe for a second or four and them BAM! you're pushing again and son of a bitch if it didn't get worse. You're lying there completely out of control while your body takes over and does it's thing and you realize it CAN get way worse. Way, way, way worse and you better hold on because it's coming.
So you stifle the need to cry out. You breathe and focus knowing that with each push you're getting closer to the end. You realize that the end is going to be both the worst part in terms of pain and the best part in terms of relief.
Three hours and fifty-six minutes was my labor with Auburn Aries. I had it easy. It pays to be tall because giving birth is easier. Or so they say. For 3:56 I worked through it and I didn't make a sound. I spoke when I needed to but I didn't cry out in pain.
With menopause all these crazy things start happening. The symptoms you read about but don't know which are going to be your experience start to manifest. Sadly, I'm not handling this as well as I did labor and delivery. I feel out of whack. I hate to complain about what's going on now because there's potentially way worse still ahead. But dammit, man, this shit sucks!
I spent yesterday afternoon feeling out of sorts. I finished my work day just fine but within 30 minutes of it I was dragging ass. Not a little. Full-tilt boogy draggin' ass. I needed sleep but rather than go lie down and take a nap, I fight it. I'm not a nap person so it's not something that occurs to me to do. But I may have to change that.
The problem with that is doing so seems like I'm giving into it. I should be able to gut it out.
I've been so lucky so far. I have friends who are having night sweats and hot flashes. God knows how I'll complain when/if those hit. I feel like I'm being a big baby right now but this is just the tip of the iceberg. I'm not a complainer, I don't ask for help and I always believe things will work out. BUT THIS SUCKS; SOMEONE HELP ME AND well, things WILL work out so there's that silver lining.
I think what I need to do is acknowledge that I'm going through changes and do whatever I can to take care of myself. The women I respect who've gone or are going through this aren't really talking about it. I know we all have different versions of what "normal" is for us individually but hearing other experiences might help. Goddess knows I'm worst person in the world about taking care of myself or putting myself first. Pigs might sooner fly out of my ass.
My reality is these changes are very real and no amount of trying to tough it out or slapping iron to it is going to work. Rub dirt on it and move along is what I'm saying to myself in my head and my body is pumping the brakes screaming "KNOCK IT OFF AND PAY ATTENTION! GIVE ME WHAT I NEED OR ALL BETS ARE OFF..."
You know, it's a real kick in the taco if you think about it. Women are responsible for populating this planet; we're able to give birth pushing something the size of watermelon out of something the size of a garden hose; we bleed one week a month and don't die; we raise children that aren't serial killers, and our reward for being the life source for all things is menopause. Years and years of it.
Being a woman isn't a job for the weak. Just sayin'.
Thursday, September 19, 2013
That’s right, I said it. I know women everywhere go through it and it does me no good to complain but it’s not going to stop me from doing exactly that – right here and right now!
A year ago January I went to a woman’s clinic in PDX to see where I was in the process. Outcome: we’re all different and there’s no definitive way to tell based on bloodwork whether your pre-menopausal or peri-menopausal (whatever the order is, I forget). Not at least until you’re done with it.
A year ago August I missed a period. Yep, I thought to myself, I’m tip-toeing through the crone’s tulips. Versus tip-toeing through the crone’s two lips. Hah, very funny. Anyhoo…
Something just felt different but I let it go and then in January of this year I went to a different doctor – one that was highly recommended and she said essentially the same thing. Once you’re there, you’ll know and then we can do something.
In May, June, July, August of this year, no periods. Well, no real periods. It was the ‘hey I’m going start’ warning and then nothing. Then I figured oh well and went on about my business …but no. No, no. Wait because maybe it WILL start so while it’s thinking about it and I’m unguarded, let’s ruin some of Marilyn’s boy shorts just to mess with her. Not enough to warrant a tampon and not enough to go without. And who thinks to carry pantiliners? How freaking gross is it not to stop that at the source and to have to deal with it externally?! It’s hard to change 36 years of thinking.
In those four months, I learned to stop viewing it as wasting a tampon and just accept that during this transition those damn things are still serving their purpose - albeit not to their “full” potential. Get it? Full? Full tamp---- never mind. You get it. I could still play tennis, swim, and do backflips on a balance beam and not have to worry about leakage.
Then September rolls around. The warning bell rings and I’m ready for it. Armed with a new box of Playtex Sport unscented in one hand and a package of Carefree acti-fresh body shape pantiliners in the other. Suddenly I’m Tom Hanks in Splash after he discovers the mermaid split and he’s in a hurry to go find her. I’ve hit the button for both elevators which are across the hall from one another and I’m bouncing back and forth, light on my feet, ready to spring into action.
What’s it gonna be? Come on. Show yourself, you scheming bitch – you can’t take me down! “You tell ‘em I’m comin’, you hear me? I’m comin’… and Hell’s comin’ with me! You hear?! Hell’s. comin’. with. me!!!”
Yeah, I know. I just mixed two movie references. What can I say…I’m menopausal. I’m lucky I remember my own freakin’ name at this point.
Moving along. So here I am armed and ready exasperatingly rolling my eyes but not mentally screaming anymore about what I perceive as wasteful. Never mind the removal of said barely used gear (ouch). The thing about all this will-there-or-won’t-there be a cycle is it’s been so flaky and sketchy that my mind has already moved over to wanting to forget all about it. I mean, do we really need to drag this out? Let me just check the box that says I no longer need my uterus and let’s shut this bitch down.
I’m so sick of waiting for this process to wrap up. Have a cycle; don’t have a cycle. WHATEVER…JUST DECIDE!! DO SOMETHING!!! This perpetual state of waiting and wondering is making me crazy. And the worst part is it’s only just started! I’ve got stuff to do already. Get on with it.
I don’t wait well. I’m like my Dad that way. When I say I’m ready to go that doesn’t mean go finish getting ready. It means I’m headed to the car right now and you’re ass better be in it or you can go next time. Stop lights in San Diego. Longest freaking lights on earth. Seriously? I know Second Street is a main vain but do I have to be sitting on a cross street on the waiting end of that deal every single time?
I have zero patience right now. And the rage. Oh my hell, the rage. I just want to cut a bitch. Poor Auburn Aries. She doesn't even say anything in the car anymore. She hears me muttering under my breath like a crazy person about to snap and she just quietly sits there in the passenger seat shaking her head. It’s worst when I’m behind bad drivers. Good gawd, man, just move it already. It’s that pedal on the right! Stand on it before I ram you with my car.
As a woman you hear of menopause from an early age. Then when you hit your 40’s you hear more and more horror stories from other women who’ve experienced it you’re like yep, I’m slowly getting there. Outwardly you may seem dismissive because you aren’t there yet (smile, nod your head as other women speak of it) but internally you’re like Elaine Benes screaming in her head on the stuck subway. You’re like “HOTFLASHES?! RAGE?! A DRY GOODIE BOX?! WHAT THE HELL?!?! You secretly mutter to yourself how that’s not going to happen to you and you hope and pray it’s different for you.
But then by 45 you realize that time moves at warp speed and slowly getting there means you’re dancing on the razor’s edge and then low and behold the day comes and you admit to yourself and those close to you that you haven’t seemed yourself and they’re all too quick to agree and then a cycle is missed and all those things you heard are racing through your mind. You tell yourself it’s a rite of passage and how lucky you are as a woman to experience such a beautiful experie….
Nah. Eff that. I’m not in a state of acceptance. It’s the secrets I need. It’s the ‘here’s how I dealt with it’ and ‘this helps’ and ‘try this’. Enough of the stories about how terrible it is. Just tell me your secrets. Goddess knows counting to 10 isn't working anymore.
Who thinks to carry pantiliners? Yeah, don’t ask.
Wednesday, September 18, 2013
Last night I was sitting in my Mustang waiting on Auburn Aries who’d run into a restaurant to pick up soup following some dental work. I had backed into a spot with a view of the restaurant doors, had the motor running and had the dog on my lap. I was listening to KGB FM when Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers blast their way into my car with American Girl. One of my all-time favorite songs.
I turned it up. I have a great stereo system with dual amps and expensive high-end mid-range speakers with a 10” sub-woofer built into the sidewall of my trunk, so when I say turned it up I don’t mean like those people with coffee can mufflers whose license plate covers rattle. I mean I turned it up and took it in - like a sommelier appreciating the complex bouquet of the finest wine. It doesn't have to be crazy loud to sound amazing. Tom and the boys were right there in the car with me and suddenly I found myself overcome with a wave of nostalgia. And pride. And accomplishment.
All this from one song, you say? Why, yes, from one song, indeed.
I am a fan of classic rock. Born in ‘63 I had the privilege of completely enjoying the 70’s. The music was so great. Growing up in San Diego was a gift my parents had no idea they were giving us kids. Being in high school in the 70’s, dating a bass player named Tracy Wright, being immersed in what was the rock of that decade, living in a place like San Diego with the sun and surf and vibe; it was amazing.
The song stirred something in me. I sat there and thought to myself I LIVE IN SAN DIEGO AGAIN! I’M HOME!!!
I did it. I am no longer in rainy Oregon thinking about how much I want to be home. I am home.
For 24 years I lived somewhere I did not call home. Stop for a moment and think about what that feels like. I had jobs and friends – really great best friends that I consider my family – but still there was an underlying sense of impermanence. Like I was waiting for something.
I sat there in my bad ass car listening to this bad ass song on my bad ass stereo on an 80° sunny evening with my kid and my dog and I felt blessed. I did an incredibly brave thing. After 24 years in Oregon and with a family I didn't have when I moved there, I decided and planned and implemented a move to another state. I did it all by myself. I’m a single parent. It’s just me. All my friends had moved away. I saved and I cut corners and I did it. I loaded a 26’ Penske and put my car on a flatbed trailer, secured it and hit the road.
I came home.
I was scared but I did it.
I sat there in my car overcome with pride and thankfulness and satisfaction. I made it. My memories of the 70’s – of sunny carefree days and great music and living in moment – I felt that again. I’d come full circle.
Yes, there are always sunny days here but they are not carefree. Now I’m 50 and I have a 16 year old who faces her own personal struggles (some of which I can relate to and some I cannot so helping is hit and miss on its best day); the music that was once the center of my Universe is now considered classic rock; and living in the moment means making considerations like my bank account and the long term effect of spontaneity.
But under the extra Oregon weight I’m working to shed and under the fact that I didn't rent our dream home while the dust settles from such a big move, lives a woman who’s still a bad ass. I am strong and funny and brave and fearless when it comes to the stuff that counts.
I’m still me and I’m home.
Monday, June 10, 2013
A move is a lot to handle. It’s a lot by ordinary standards but you factor in pulling up roots and relocating your family to a different state 1100 miles away, a work transfer, the planning, the cleaning out of the garage, going through and tossing paperwork, making lists, making calls, trying to be as cost effective as humanly possible, thinking and rethinking timelines, praying the kid’s going to be alright, praying the move is the right thing to do – it’s a lot for one person to manage.
These are the times I wish I had a better half. Maybe someone who’s Type-A mixed in with some OCD. That’d be the way to go right there!
But alas, that’s not the case. Instead, it’s me, Type-… what’s the opposite of Type-A? I haven’t studied it enough to be able to tell you. All I know is if the dishes sit in the sink overnight, I don’t sweat it; and if I pay a late fee for paying my car insurance on the 8th rather than on the 1st, they’ll get over it. It all works out in the end.
This time, however, I need to really get, and keep, my shit together. Flying by the seat of my pants is fine, but more than anything I want this move to go off without a hitch. I need to plan, stay on track, expect challenges but don’t freak out when a challenge arises, and know that I just have to keep pushing forward. When moving day comes, I want everything to be ready – no last minute clutter on the kitchen counter; no throwing last minute shit into a box to sort out later.
We’re down to 45 days now and it’s getting real. I can’t keep up with housework AND preparing to move. I have a kid I can’t get to engage and help out. “You’re not helping. I need your help. Pick a chore and just do it.” At this point any little bit will help. It’s like in The Breakup with Vince Vaughn and Jennifer Aniston. “I want you to want to do dishes.” “Nobody WANTS to do dishes.”
Trust me. I get it.
Because there’s no partner with whom to bounce ideas, Auburn Aries gets to hear it and she is sick of it. She actually asked me the other day if we could NOT talk about San Diego for one day.
Oops. I’ve now taken to keeping it all to myself for the most part. If not, then I might as well discuss finances to the nth degree, too. I'm sure she'd love that about as much as grinding out details for the move.
Right now my focus is cleaning out 10 or 20 years of useless paperwork. Those employee evaluations from 2000; the loan docs from the three houses I’ve bought and sold living up here; that joke someone in the office handed me before emailing them was the way to go. Yes, it’s that bad. Scoff if you will, but you’ve got it too. I’m transforming what I own from complacent pack rat to lean urban living.
The big push right now is because June 15th is free shred day in Portland otherwise I’ll be paying .79 a pound and paper is freaking heavy. So between now and Friday night, I need to get through the closet in the office and around 5 boxes in the garage. I mean how the hell did this much stupid shit accumulate. Did I really need to save the benefits pamphlet from three companies ago? Just kill me now! So. fucking. monotonous.
Once the paperwork part is done, I’ll finish the garage. That won’t take much time. After that it’s boxes and packing up this house. It’s all getting tightly packed, marked, and staged in the front living room. The day the movers get here, with any luck, I’ll just be directing traffic. A girl can dream. Oh and by directing traffic I mean then cleaning afterward, then waiting while the carpet cleaner guy does his thing; then the walk through with the landlord; then after THAT finally crashing in a hotel overnight to head out at morning light.
Yep, it’s all just a walk in the park. So uneventful I should really skip. My chest is sufficiently aching from stress now. I should probably stop. Thank goodness no one reads my blog anymore. I can vent in here and no one gives a shit. My blog is my sounding board. Thanks, old friend.
Monday, March 11, 2013
With this summer’s move to San Diego, I’ve realized just how much stuff I need to get rid of in my garage. I moved to the Pacific Northwest with a duffel bag and a suitcase. Over the last 23 years, I’ve accumulated “stuff”. Too much stuff. What you gather as a single person varies greatly to what you hang onto as a mother.
When you’re first starting out in life you collect stuff. You think it’s cool and it gives you something to talk about. You think it makes you interesting. Before moving to the PNW, I collected old Singer Sewing machines, all in working condition. My Mom sewed everything on her old Singer and without intending to and before I knew it, I had accumulated six or eight of the damn things. I’d see one at a garage sale or swap meet and feel compelled to give it a good home. I got rid of the sewing machines before I left San Diego.
Fast forward through a baby, a divorce, and more than two decades living here and you’ll find half of my two car garage is boxes and totes. There’s the camping gear that I bought and used once. There are computers that I built that were old technology before I even had a chance to use them. There are baby clothes that I can’t bring myself to get rid of.
The list goes on and on. It’s exhausting to think about.
Three years ago it was worse. It was children’s books and DVDs and dolls and toys that Aries would never use or watch again (from which our neighbor’s young girls benefited). There was stuff that I’d moved several times and had no intention of ever using. I spent two days going through the garage. I took seven small truckloads to Goodwill. Seriously. Seven.
I thought I had it down to a manageable level but when I called Mayflower for an estimate, I about shit myself. “You want how much to move my stuff to San Diego?!?!” I took a good, long look at that garage. I actually stood in the driveway, hands on my hips, just looking at it.
I perused online home rentals in Dago to see what I’d be able to afford. At first I was disappointed. It would be good-bye gourmet kitchen and fully fenced 10,000 sf lot of beautiful grass. In the last five years I’ve downgraded house size from a 3000 sf house to 2400 to 2100 to 1810 to happily land in a 1510 sf house all in the name of the Great Recession and my need to simplify. With 3000 square feet comes a $2100 mortgage. With 1510 comes $1200 rent.
Where we’ll land in San Diego is yet unknown. We’ll stay with my Bestie for a month while we search for a place but I’ve come to accept that there may or may not be a garage to store all my nonsense. I went from being bummed to realizing this may prove to be liberating.
We’ll be in sunshine and outside doing things, not stuck in the house for nine months of clouds and 40” of rain a year. We’ll wake up to blue skies and walking the dog means not needing to time it between rain showers. Rather than live a house with a yard I have to pay the gardener to tend, I could live in a three bedroom apartment with a pool and a gym.
Suddenly all that shit in the garage that once meant so much I had to keep it, is now a ball and chain. I’ll still keep the important things like Auburn Aries first rocking chair but I suspect that once I start the purging this weekend a lot more will go than I expected initially.
Not that I needed validation to get this chore done, simply getting rid of a bunch of stuff I no longer use and that I’m not willing to pay to move, was enough. But I ran across this article today and not only did it give me pause for the cause but it helped me in a way I didn’t expect.
I often times get jealous of my friends who appear to have it all. They post on Facebook about how perfect their lives are and include pictures of their remodel or the inside of their houses and I realize how nice it would have been to have dual income these last 14 years to have acquired some of those nice things. I look around my house I don’t have much but what I have matters to me. I lean toward being a minimalist anyway. You won’t find knick knacks or kitsch or excessive crap on my walls. I like simple, open spaces.
But reading that article helped me squelch some of the ‘I wish I had’ and put it into ‘I have all I need’ perspective. Some people like to live in one house forever. I like to live in different places. I tend to fly by the seat of my pants, albeit a little less because I’m raising Auburn Aries and she needs to feel grounded. But I’m cool wherever I’m at because I know it’s exactly where I’m supposed to be.
This summer when the movers back up to my garage, they’ll be there a fraction of what they would have been and when I unpack my place wherever it may be, it’ll be with a lot less baggage. Figuratively and literally.
Wednesday, February 27, 2013
Trixie goes nearly everywhere with Auburn Aries and I. So long as we’re not getting out of the car, she’s welcome to go with us. Trixie has separation anxiety so leaving her in the car to, say, run into the little market down the street is a no-go. In fact, the first time I did it, she peed on my seat in my Mustang.
She can be left in the house on her own just fine, although you don’t want to leave the trashcan out or leave a package of Oreos on the coffee table with five cookies in it. We made this revelation a month after we got her. She was one and half; we were naïve.
She’s a long-hair Jack Russell mix (with Dachsund, I believe) and her energy is higher than any dog I’ve had before. She’s a good dog, but I should have Googled that breed before we adopted her. Not sure it would have made a difference in adopting her but I’d have been better informed.
Trixie does get me out of the house for walks and working from home full-time feels like you never leave your house some days.
While riding in the car a few days ago, I noticed in the side mirror that her nails had gotten long again. Over the past year, she’s really grown to trust me. She was found as a stray in LA and I believe the people who owned her before were mean to her. Especially the man in her life. She hates men. Auburn Aries and I joke about her being a man-hating lesbian.
Anyway, cutting her nails myself took time and trust. It wasn’t the same as cutting Sugarbear’s Chihuahua nails. That took less than a minute. So a couple nights ago, I laid her on her back on the couch and I’m talking to her and I’m rubbing her belly in between paws and things are
clipping moving along fine when I move to
her back paw.
I clip the first nail fine. I’m just taking off the very tips, no real length to speak of. I line up and clip the second nail and she yiped and pulled away. I see blood on her foot instantly.
I scoop her up and hold her close to me. She’s trembling and nuzzled as close to my neck and she can get. I wrapped a napkin that was on the coffee table around her foot try to sooth her. I had hurt our little baby. She trusted me and I messed up.
I’d never cut a dog’s nails to the quick before. I’ve always been so careful not to. I called out for Auburn Aries and asked her to bring her laptop. While I was hugging the dog and crying, she was Googling what to do. Trixie’s nail wouldn’t quit bleeding. I couldn’t understand why it was bleeding so badly. I knew I hadn’t cut too much off her nail but obviously something happened.
Aries read that if you take baking powder and dip the nail into it. It’ll stop the bleeding immediately. Which we did, and it did. Not directly into the container, mind you, but into a small bowl. Trixie trembled and trembled and I cried and cried.
The downside was if she went outside to pee, the wet grass would dissolve the baking powder and the bleeding would start again. I didn’t have a Styptic stick, nor did I know what that even was until a coworker told me about it the next day. In fact, Aries discovered the type specifically for dogs so you can dip their nail into it. I’ll have to make sure to keep one around for next time.
Hopefully there won’t ever be a next time.
It was a long night that night. I’ve since had a chance to look at the nail. As it turns out the nail was split. When I cut it, it split it further back to the bleeding point.
It doesn’t eliminate the guilt but I think I’ll keep my day job and stick to what I know.