single vs solo parenting vs OMG shut it already

This thing came up online a couple of days ago and it’s been gnawing at me ever since.

So, my friend Katie – do y’all know Katie? Because you should, she’s awesome – she had a baby recently. And then her husband went out of town for a week and she was on her own with the baby for a week. And she wrote a post about how difficult it was.

And then a whole bunch of commenters showed up and basically blasted her for not having a clue how difficult it is to really be a single parent. They said she was a spoiled brat and a rich lazy housewife with an easy little life (none of which are things that are true if you know anything about Katie, but I digress).

Here’s the thing: I’m a single parent, and I read the article and found absolutely nothing offensive about it. But it’s another example of something that seems to be a very common phenomenon online, particularly among the parenting blogs, and it drives me bonkers. Here’s the thing, y’all: IT’S NOT A COMPETITION.

Is life generally harder for me as a single parent compared to other moms with spouses? I don’t know. Probably, I guess.

Some of my married friends have husbands who are useless pieces of crap (sorry, truth) who do absolutely nothing to help out with the kids and who basically function as an extra (very large) child that they have to clean up after and take care of. I imagine their lives are probably WAY more frustrating than mine.

(Note: I’m not saying that’s true of all of my married friends. I know plenty of awesome husbands/dads too.)

Some of my single parent friends don’t have the support system around them that I’m very lucky to have. I imagine that’s got to be really hard too.

So Katie had a rough week. Why jump on her case for it? Taking care of a 4 month-old is HARD. I would so much rather deal with my toddler and 5 year-old together than one tiny newborn. (Another reason I’m definitely done having kids – I mean, besides the whole divorce thing – is that I’m pretty sure I would never survive another newborn baby. I love my kids to the moon and back, but I am SO GLAD to be past that stage.) She didn’t claim that she was a “single parent” because she took care of the baby by herself for a week, just that she could sympathize with single parents because she had a taste of what it’s like to do it on your own, and she saw how hard it is. Can someone tell me what’s offensive about that? Because I just don’t see it.

I don’t sit around thinking about who has it easier and who has it harder than me. Because it’s none of my business. And I prefer to just go ahead and live my life rather than thinking about what everybody else is doing.

And I think that if you DO sit around thinking about other people’s lives that much, maybe it’s time to turn off your computer and go find yourself a nice hobby. (I hear knitting can be very relaxing. Or maybe go pet a horse.) Because life is too short to sit around feeling all “woe is me” all the time. There’s no medal for winning the Adversity Olympics.

Durannie for Life

Back in the early 80s, we didn’t have MTV, so instead we set our VCR to record a show called “Friday Night Videos” that came on NBC long after our bedtime. (I think it aired around 1 a.m.) On Saturday mornings, instead of cartoons, my sister and I would watch the previous night’s episode of “Friday Night Videos.”

That is how I very clearly remember seeing the video for “Hungry Like the Wolf” for the first time when I was about 7 years old. We watched it with our mouths hanging open. And after it was over, we rewound it and watched it again. And again.

We bought the albums (on cassette tape, naturally) soon after that. My sister and I would fight over them, so we each had to get our own copy. Rio, Seven and the Ragged Tiger, Arena… I still know the words to almost every song by heart.

My sister decided that she loved Simon LeBon. And we were not allowed to love the same guy in the band, so I had to pick someone else. I picked John Taylor, the bass player. I had a poster of him on my bedroom door.

Interestingly, my cousin Cat also loved John Taylor and had the exact same poster of him on her bedroom door. (We didn’t plan that, it just sort of happened that way.)

My love for them continued throughout the years. I’ve bought every album. Last year, I remember walking on the treadmill while listening to their latest album (All You Need is Now) while trying to make myself go into labor with Lucy. (It didn’t work, btw. She had to be forcibly evicted.)

Anyway, growing up in Mississippi, not a lot of great concerts stopped through town. Duran Duran never came to Jackson, which meant that I never got to see them live. And I somehow missed them whenever they came to town when I lived in other cities.

Until last night.

And OMG you guyyyyyyyyys.

Oh, hello boys.

(I’m going to go on record that I chose wisely with John Taylor, because the man is aging WELL.)

I was that obnoxious lady who never sat down and who jumped and danced and sang through every single song that they did. And I don’t care if other people thought I was obnoxious. I was SO DAMN HAPPY.

That look on my face? Yeah, I looked like that for the whole show.

The look on my face in that picture? That’s basically what I looked like the whole time. It was so awesome.

I’m glad I brought a ponytail holder with me, because I was a sweaty mess. My scale says that I’ve lost 3 pounds since yesterday, if that’s any indication of how many calories I burned last night. Clearly I need to just follow Duran Duran on tour for a couple of months and I’ll hit my goal weight in no time.

Seriously. Best concert of my life, hands-down. Totally worth waiting 29 (almost 30) years to see them.

Thanks for the show, guys. My soul needed that like you have no idea.

random odds & ends

Lucy isn’t sick anymore, but she’s still in some Demon-Possessed Toddler phase of waking up several times a night. Why? NOBODY KNOWS. Just for laughs, I guess.

Since I have to, you know, work during the day and actually be a functional human being, my mom has been sleeping over in the guest room for the past several nights. So she gets up with Lucy and lets me sleep. This is another instance where I don’t know how I’d survive this whole single mom thing without my family nearby to help me out. It’s been a life-saver.

Still, this phase cannot pass soon enough for me.

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Catie has been taking swim lessons, and has amazed me with how well she’s doing. I’ve been cajoling her all summer to put her face anywhere near the water, and she refuses. During her second swim lesson, her teacher said, “Simon says, put your nose in the water and blow bubbles,” and she just did it, no questions asked.

I guess it goes to prove that other people can get your kids to do stuff that you can’t do, it takes a village, blah blah blah, but still! She put her face in the water! Voluntarily! I’m so proud of her.

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Speaking of Catie, at what age am I supposed to start correcting her when she says things wrong? Or do I leave that for school to do? Because I love some of the ways she says things. Like, instead of “anyway,” she says, “anywayses.” And instead of “each other,” she says, “each ozzher.” (Like the S sound in treasure.)

It’s adorable and I don’t want her to stop, but I also realize that it needs to end at a certain point so she doesn’t sound uneducated. I’m just not sure when that point is.

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We’re going to the beach this weekend. Originally this started as a simple thing. Ali is going to be in Wilmington for a wedding, and I couldn’t let her be 100 miles away and NOT stop by to give her a hug, so I figured I’d drop the kids with my folks and make a quick road trip.

Then, my dad mentioned the fact that he hasn’t seen the North Carolina coast yet, and he hasn’t dipped his toes in the Atlantic for over 50 years, and he sure would like some decent seafood… (my dad is not the most subtle at dropping hints). So, I figured, ok then, let’s just make a family trip out of it. It’s going to be short, because hotels + my kids = nobody sleeps very well. So we’re leaving on Saturday morning and coming back on Sunday afternoon.

Still, I’m curious to see how the girls react to the ocean this time. Catie hasn’t been since she was 3, and she was terrified of the waves then, but she might have outgrown that. And Lucy’s never been, so it’ll be cool to see what she thinks of it.

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Last night, I walked into the kitchen and saw something move out of the corner of my eye. I turned just in time to see a tail disappearing behind the stove.

I didn’t know what it was. Mouse? Rat? Maybe just a lizard with a bad sense of direction?

After jumping up and down and freaking out and questioning whether or not my renter’s insurance would cover arson if I burned the place down (unlikely), I called my mom. She was on her way over to spend the night here; instead, she made a detour to Rite-Aid and bought a mouse trap.

(It was one of these covered ones, in case you’re curious. And btw, I love that they advertise it as “re-usable.” As if I’m going to re-use it! Oh D-Con, you so crazy.)

We baited it with some peanut butter and set it up. When I came downstairs this morning, I was glad that it was a covered trap, because I didn’t have to see the gore, all I saw was the tail sticking out of the trap.

So, yeah, it worked. Rest in peace, mouse. Thanks for not giving any of us the Bubonic Plague, I guess.

I threw the trap away, and I suppose that I will eventually, someday, stop shuddering and dry heaving. I doubt it’ll happen anytime soon, though.

Also? WTF, Beaumont? Back when we lived in the sticks, that cat was a mouser that killed all kinds of critters. I guess now that we live in the suburbs, he decided to retire? He is SO FIRED.

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Next week, I get to fulfill a dream I’ve had since I was 7 years old: I have tickets to see Duran Duran in concert. My cousin Cat, who has loved them as long as I have, is going with me. When I found out I was going, there was much squeeing and bouncing. I don’t have words to explain how excited I am. But I think it’s a safe bet that the odds of me embarrassing myself next Tuesday night are going to be uncharacteristically high, even for me.

I think I should treat myself to a new purse now

This is one of those random “nobody cares about my dreams, I know, but I swear this one is funny” asides:

I dreamed that I was accused of murder. I was innocent, but there were a couple of dead bodies in my yard, so obviously I was the natural suspect.

Rather than stick around to clear my name, I ran away and started working for the Mafia. You know, as you do. They had me manage a restaurant that was part of some scam operation.

Then, I left the restaurant after working my shift there, and I was picked up by my boyfriend, Alice Cooper.


Yeah. THAT Alice Cooper.

He took me purse shopping. Turns out Alice Cooper has fabulous taste in handbags. Who’d have guessed, right? But he picked out a purse for me that was, like, the most perfect purse I had ever seen in my life. And I thought how cool it was that he totally got me and my taste, and what a great boyfriend Alice Cooper was.

Alice Cooper. Seriously.

Then I woke up. End scene.

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Ok, here’s a weird story and I’m looking for opinions on how to proceed, because I have no clue.

I’ve been doing this online dating thing, right? And most of the time, for first dates, I’ll meet a guy for coffee or lunch during the daytime, because the kids are already at daycare and that way, I don’t have to pay extra for a baby-sitter. Let’s be honest, the vast majority of first dates will never evolve into second dates, and I don’t see the point of spending money on a sitter unless I know the dude is worth it.

So, this guy contacts me and asks me out. He seems nice enough and fits my basic requirements, so I agree to meet him for lunch.

He shows up, and it turns out, he’s in a wheelchair. There was no mention of it in his profile. That’s… a little weird, right?

I tried not to look surprised and just go with it. I didn’t ask any questions about his handicap, because he didn’t mention it and it seemed rude to bring it up. We had lunch, and he seems like a perfectly nice guy, but I didn’t get any “spark” or anything like that from him. And I don’t think that had anything to do with the wheelchair, I think he’s just not really my type. He comes off as a little conservative and uptight, which is not generally what I gravitate toward.

But then, he texted me later to ask me out again, and I have no idea to respond. Is there anyway that I can say “no thanks” and NOT sound like a totally superficial jerk?

I talked about this with a friend, who seemed to think that I should be angry about the misrepresentation, and that his lack of mobility should’ve been clearly stated in his online dating profile. I kind of see that side of it, because yeah, it’s not really cool to just surprise someone with something so fundamental about yourself. But I also see why he might leave that information out, because he probably thinks that a lot of women would dismiss him for that. And that’s probably true, sadly.

I don’t know. Is there a way to extricate myself here and not sound mean? Any ideas?

Thursday Brain Dump

So. The fish died. All three of them. I’m a very efficient fish killer. The key appears to be forgetting to pre-treat the water. You’re welcome. (Also, whoops.)

Catie handled it so-so. There were a lot of tears, but then she got excited when I told her we could go to the pet store to pick out new fish. So, you know. We cope, we move on. Such is life.

Rest in peace, Mario, Luigi, and Yoshi.

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I don’t usually go this long between blog posts, and I think that staying in my own head this much is probably not good for me. The issue is that I’m not sure what to share, how much is too much. I’m having trouble deciding exactly where my boundaries are.

At the same time, writing things out usually makes me feel much better. So I should probably be doing more of that.

Where to start…

My mom is insisting that I need to see a therapist. She’s concerned about the dating thing. She thinks that I was so starved for affection in my marriage, that I’m greedy for it now.

[Side note: I know some people in Dave’s family still read this blog, and that previous sentence might upset them. All I can say to that is that the only two people who knows what goes on in a marriage are the two people in it. We each have our perceptions of what things were like, and that perception colors our reality. I’m not going to say anything negative about Dave himself, because I don’t need to. But I’m allowed to talk about my own personal experience. Also – if you don’t like the fact that I’m not going to be all happy & joyous about my failed marriage, perhaps you shouldn’t be reading my blog anymore. And yes, I see when you visit here on my stat counter.]

So, yeah. Apparently I’m greedy for affection, attention, positive reinforcement, etc., from men. Maybe that’s true. I don’t necessarily see the harm. If I want to flirt and have guys tell me that I’m cute, how is that such a bad thing?

I guess I could see it possibly being negative if the kids were being exposed to any of it. But the only difference is that occasionally they have a baby-sitter in the evenings, which is usually a big fun event for them. They aren’t being introduced to some revolving door of men or anything even remotely like that.

My awesome stylist fixed my stupid self-inflicted bangs haircut.
There’s really no reason for this picture to be here, except that I’m talking about myself, and good lord, I do love my hairstylist.

The therapy issue is kind of a weird topic for me. I was in therapy for a while last year during most of the really horrible stuff (both before and after the separation). And I’ve been in therapy a couple of other times in my life. In theory, I know it’s a positive thing, I know it helps people. But for me, personally? I’ve never gotten anything out of therapy. I think I have a fair amount of self-awareness already, and I typically leave therapy sessions feeling exactly the same as I did when I walked in the door. That’s not how it’s supposed to work, right?

(And don’t tell me to go to a support group for single/divorced parents, because I’ve heard that suggestion too, and OMG I would rather bash my own forehead into a hard, bumpy surface than endure that.)

I suppose you could make the argument that if it doesn’t work for me, I need a different therapist. And that might be an entirely valid point.

There’s a lot more I’d like to say about the issue of dating, but that’s at least 5 more blog posts right there, and this is probably long enough.

The upshot here is that I probably will give therapy one more shot, mainly to make my mom happy, so she can know that at least I tried. Maybe I’ll even learn something this time around. Who knows.

tell me my future

Full disclosure up front: I don’t usually do these types of promotional blog posts, but I was offered the chance to get a free psychic reading, and if you’ve seen the last couple of blog posts about how my life is going these days? Then you know that I need all the help I can get right now.

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I’m generally iffy on psychics. I’ve been to a few. You know, the dude with the Tarot cards in the French Quarter in New Orleans. There are tons of them that set up their folding tables in Jackson Square, right in front of St. Louis Cathedral. I always thought it was odd, the way that the voodoo and Catholicism are juxtaposed so closely to each other.

I usually find that most psychics aren’t so much about predicting the future, they’re just really good at reading people, picking up cues, and telling things about themselves in a way that sounds… well, supernatural, I guess.

But I do believe that some people – a very select few – have genuine psychic abilities. When I was in college in Memphis, I heard about one lady who was supposed to be amazing. I went to see her, and she knew all kinds of things about me that nobody could pick up through social cues. Like, she knew that my grandmother died the day after Christmas the previous year, that kind of thing. It was really unnerving, all of the stuff she knew. It freaked me out.

Oh, and that same lady warned me about a guy who I had had a fling with on a recent vacation, and told me that I should stay away from him because he would show up several more times throughout my life, and he was nothing but trouble. I laughed it off, because, you know, it was a vacation fling and I didn’t think I’d ever see the guy again. Two weeks later, he called me. And I’ve seen him a few times since then, and let me tell you, BOY WAS SHE RIGHT. Dude really was nothing but trouble.

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SO! Getting to the point, which is the psychic reading I had today.

The main thing she told me, which I really needed to hear, is that my girls and I are going to be ok. She said that Catie and Lucy will “rise above” this divorce situation and go on to be successful adults. She said that Lucy will be a lawyer, and Catie could be either a diplomat or something to with the sciences or fine arts. (That’s kind of a wide spectrum, and I find the idea of career planning for a 3 month-old to be sort of hilarious. We’ll wait and see, I guess?)

She said that the girls and I are going to get involved in some hobbies that we all do together. She wasn’t sure what, but that it has something to do with ecology or nature. She said she saw Catie playing with tadpoles with some other little girls.

Now, if you know me, you know that I am so not a nature girl. But yeah, I can totally see Catie playing with anything that’s related to amphibians or reptiles, so she might be right on that part.

She also said that I’ll be remarried within two years, which made me laugh. She told me all kind of details about this alleged future husband (he works in stocks, he’s divorced with a couple of kids who live with their mother, etc.), and I seriously could not stop giggling the whole time she was telling me this. Because, well, NO.

I mean, I know that I shouldn’t speak in absolutes, but let me just say that right now? I totally understand the George Clooney approach to marriage. He was divorced once, and he says that’s why he’s never getting married again. I always thought that was silly, but now? I totally understand you, George.

Of course, if I end up marrying a stockbroker sometime in 2013, y’all can remind me of this post and point out just how wrong I was. I guess time will tell, right?

P.S. Unfortunately, she did not tell me that some previously-unknown billionaire relative is going to pass away and leave me all their money. Damn.

Best! Friday the 13th! Ever!

(One of Catie’s favorite lines from the movie “Tangled” is Rapunzel swinging around a tree, yelling, “Best! Day! EVER!” She repeats that a lot. Hence the post title.)

Why I love this particular Friday the 13th, superstitions be damned:

1. Catie got dressed and left for daycare without any fights this morning. Hey, it’s the little things.

2. Beaumont is currently at the vet getting shaved. (Insert your own shaved p***y jokes here.) We have to do this every summer because his fur is so long and it gets all matted and nasty. And yes, he looks ridiculous afterward:

Beaumont post-haircut
(Exhibit A: his first haircut, 2 years ago.)

But he’s also a lot happier. And since he is currently in “Guard the Pregnant Lady” Mode and is all over me constantly, I’ll also be a lot happier when there’s less fur on him. Hopefully it means I’ll stop having the recurring nightmare about being attacked by a bear, when I wake up and realize that it’s because I’ve got a ridiculously furry cat sleeping up against my face, suffocating me.

3. The housekeepers are coming today! I always feel a little weird mentioning that we have housekeepers, because it feels so… I don’t know. Snobby? Elitist? I get oddly defensive about it. But you know what? Whatever. For the mental health benefit alone, I consider it to be a totally worthwhile expense.

Oh, also? Knowing that the house will be all sparkly and clean should I happen to go into labor in the immediate future? HUGE load off my mind. You can’t even imagine.

4. I’m getting a massage this afternoon. All of y’all who’ve had babies know how late pregnancy can make you ache all over. My back and shoulders are currently a disaster zone of knots and pains. Then Catie’s daycare teacher Mandy informed me that a new massage therapist opened up shop in the building next to the daycare, and she had left a stack of coupons for them to pass out to the parents. When I checked it out, saw that this lady is certified to do prenatal massage, and that the coupon was for 50% off her normal hourly rate? Hell yes, I booked that sucker. I cannot wait.

5. It’s Clean Sheet Day. Between the massage and the fresh sheets on the bed, I’m already looking forward to bedtime tonight. It’s gonna be so good, y’all.

6. Our sixth wedding anniversary is on Sunday, the 15th. Awww.

Still laughing.

And we’re still laughing. (Most of the time.)