Archive | November 2013

A Gratitude 180

I’m grateful for the obvious. My kids, my husband, my house, my job, my health and friends.

What about the things I wish were different? Can I be grateful for those?

What would it feel like to be grateful for gray hairs, extra pounds, consequences of poor choices, and dreams deferred?

Today I put those too on my gratitude list, for they are as much a part of my life as the parts going exactly according to my plans and desires.

And I’m grateful to them, those things I wish were different, because they are mine, and in a state of gratitude, I may be able to make better use of their un-idealness. I may be more open to their lesson, their meaning. To how they may serve my transcendence.

Surely, gratitude is a better use of time than all the energy bound up in futile attempts to change reality and bend it to my will.

I am grateful, then, that there are no shortcuts to the desires deep within me. There’s no express train to comfort and peace of mind. But there is this moment, this mixed bag of beauty and longing, and here I am. So I’m choosing to greet it with “welcome,” “thank you,” and “please teach me.”

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This entry was posted on November 28, 2013. 21 Comments

It’s A Privilege To Be Sick

imagesI was too sick to lift my head and see what time it was.  I could tell from my children’s energy levels it was probably after 5 PM but before 8 PM.  I couldn’t hear any crying– just laughter and a coupla bars of Gangnam Style.   I could picture Jeff dancing with the children– probably hurting his sore back– and knew that everyone was OK.  Him, them, me.

It was dark in my room, but I could feel it spinning.  I’ve never been this sick in my life.  I tried to remember what it was like to have the chicken pox and miss seven days of Ms. Hunter’s kindergarten class.  I know I felt awful that week in 1978, but this was worse.  Now I have a fully formed prefrontal cortex and can truly know how awful I feel.   Every muscle pulsed with ache and the nausea was a billion times worse than the worst day in pregnancy.  At least during my first trimester I could eat vanilla ice cream with mac and cheese.  Friday night I had nothing.

At 8:15 PM I was able to sit up and squint at the clock.  I could still hear the kids.  Jeff half-heartedly told them to keep their voices down because Mommy’s sick and sleeping.  I was glad they were loud– their giggles were my lullaby.  It was a way to stay connected and distracted from my body’s revolt.

What a privilege, I thought to myself.  As I heaved and sweated and prayed for sleep, I could feel how privileged I was.  I could totally let go and be sick as a dying dog.  It was OK; my kids were having what sounded like a magical night with their Daddy.  I didn’t have to get up or work the night shift or nurse a baby or feed the chickens.  I could take those long hours to collapse into an unproductive heap of physical distress and simply lay there.

What a privilege.

When I was single, I’d dread my annual bout of the stomach flu for all the obvious reasons.  But also, it was so lonely to lay in my bed, writhing in pain, all alone.  I’d listen to the sounds of the Ohio on-ramp alone in my condo thinking I could die here and no one would find me for days.  While I am sure that the maintenance man or one of my bosses might have come looking for me eventually, it wasn’t the same as having three warm bodies disturbing  my sleep patterns all evening long.  When I lived alone, I never let my shoulders fully relax; my body never made a full indent into my bed and pillow because I couldn’t possibly just surrender to illness.  A full exhale and collapse into bed is the privilege of someone who’s safe and held closely by people who love her.   A night to fall apart physically is possible for someone who knows that under her roof are people who love her and will come looking for her in the morning. Probably before 6 AM.

What a privilege.

This Is Not An Open Letter To The Mice Family Living In Our Van

Awwww. How cute? Why is everyone so hysterical? We're just here for the Pirate's Booty crumbs.

Awwww. How cute? Why is everyone so hysterical? We’re just here for the Pirate’s Booty crumbs.

I’m level-headed most of the time in the real world (though hardly ever on this blog).  The proof: I am raising my two children with my husband, holding down a Costco membership and a job that requires my full mental faculties, all while maintaining a rich internal life as detailed on these pages.  While I’ve been known to do deep emotional work on mass transportation, Ladies and Gentlemen, that’s NOTHING compared to the emoting I did yesterday in my very own mini van.

The kids were strapped in.  Jeff was driving and our beloved cousin, Gabe, was riding shotgun.  I happily scrambled into the “way back” because I was getting out first for a shower that I was cohosting for a dear friend.  I was gazing at the two dozen yellow roses we bought for the bride when I saw a shadow out of my left eye.   Odd, given that it was high noon and the car was only going about 5 miles per hour.  Then I saw it again, and I knew.  I knew that the mouse Jeff was sure he’d “taken care of” last night was back.  Or had friends.  Lots of friends.  And family.

I took a deep breath, mindful that my children are deathly afraid of ants, so it would be imperative that they NOT know (1) there was mouse in the car AND/OR (2) that their mother was severely freaked out by the emerging rodent sitchy in the car we were all presently riding in.

I signaled to Jeff that I’d seen a mouse.  The signal? “Jeff, there’s a mouse in this car.”  Then, I cooed softly to the children, “Don’t worry, kiddos, this is just a grand adventure– like lice with an “M” or a rainstorm when we’re headed to the pool.  We define ourselves by how we react to these unforeseen events.  Laugh with me!”

We’ll never know if they were buying that because as soon as I shut my yapper, the mouse ran across my feet.  And yes, I had on my cowboy boots (I was going to a fancy shower, after all), and yes, I was setting an example for my children, and yes, I emitted a sound so plaintive and blood-curdling that my throat still hurts.

“Kids, this is what it sounds like when the doves cry!”

What followed, dear friends, is best described as mayhem/chaos/bedlam, or “chabedhem” as I now call it.  Both kids burst into tears, and Jeff turned the car around, pulled back into the garage, and gave me the task of calming the children while he and Gabe dealt with the critters.  We are not sure who had the harder job.  I tried to tend to my children while also listening to what the menfolk were doing in the garage.  I could hear the vacuum going and tried not to picture what exactly they were sucking through that hose.

Trying to get the kids back in the car was similar to trying to herd spooked horses back into a haunted field.  Had I been in the possession of lollipops or cupcakes, I’da bribed them with zero regrets.  All I had was my own sweet talking, which sort of fails me when the going gets furry and carries the bubonic plague.

All of the adults in this warm little vignette were convinced that all the non humans (read: members of the species Mus musculus) were equitably displaced from our mini van.  We laughed at the thought of two little mice living on our detritus. Ha, ha– there are enough snacks and dried up Goldfish to feed a whole colony!  I tried not to draw any adverse conclusions about my own housekeeping or general cleanliness.  I sure as heavens tried to forget that vivid chapter on the Black Death we spent weeks on during world history with Ms. Duff junior year.

We clinked our glasses as we congratulated ourselves on our cleverness and cunning.  For kicks, Jeff put one last trap in the truck.  You know for peace of mind.  And it would have given us just that except that when we opened the trunk, the cheese was gone and the trap was empty.

Yeah, so then Jeff and Gabe went to Home Depot at 9:15 PM looking for more peace of mind.  I spent the evening on Facebook trolling around to see if any of my friends have a cat I can borrow.  Seriously.  Anyone? Cats for rent?

I Forgot To Name My Babies After My Grandparents– Now What?

Apparently, it’s grandparent week here at Outlaw Mama.  In case you missed yesterday’s riveting portrait of my connection to my grandfather through an almost-shared hernia, click here.  Continuing on that theme, today I am thinking about baby names.  Specifically, I always pictured myself having babies named after my grandparents.  Little Virginia, Lucile, John and Joseph– they were supposed to be in the mix.  Small problem: I am done having babies and neither of the ones I already gave birth to have those names.

Welcome to grandparent week!

Welcome to grandparent week!

I didn’t think I cared.  Then I saw a little girl at the park named Virginia.  That sparked a flame of regret about the baby names that will never be.

And I remember suggesting Virginia as a name for Sadie.  It was in the mix for a while, though we abandoned it around 30 weeks into the pregnancy.  We arrived at the hospital with our two finalists: April and Sadie.

As for Simon, I can’t say that either of my grandfather’s names were really in the running.  He does have my maternal grandparents’ last name as his middle name, but that’s not quite the same.

Since the womb is closed, I have started looking around for things I can name.  Things that are precious enough to name after my grandparents, even though “things” are not flesh and blood.

Here are my contenders for things to name after my grandparents:

  1. Mini Van: My first fancy car was named “Sadie,” so why not name the mini van after one of my favorite forebears?  Our Odyssey is gray, sleek and hearty.  She’s just like my Texan-born grandmother, Virginia.  Also, she get shiz done, just like Virginia.  “Kids, get in the Virginia! We are late for school!”
  2. Our House: Ok, it’s not a ranch or a manse, but it’s a house and I think it deserves a name.  It’s compact, sturdy, and pretty tall.  Just like my paternal grandfather, Joseph Thomas.  If you hear “we are headed back to Joseph Thomas after the game,” just know we are going home.
  3. Kitchen Aid mixer: It’s going to last forever right?  Why not give it a name? It sits on the counter, all shiny and red– it deserves a proper name.  We shall call in John.  It might get a little confusing since some people use “john” to refer other fixtures in the house, but if I tell you that I made pasta dough in the John, just know I’m talking about the one on the counter, not the one in the bathroom. (Plus, the odds of me ever making homemade pasta dough are roughly zero.)
  4. Baby Doll: Do you know my precious baby doll, Blue Baby? Maybe it’s time to give her a name.  Out of respect for all parties, I will not give her the name of the grandmother who tried to murder her in the burning can, but she can have my other grandmother’s name.  Lucile.  Everyone wins.
Never miss a chance to post this little beauty's picture

Never miss a chance to post this little beauty’s picture

Did you give your children (or your household items) your grandparents’ names?  How’d that work out for you?

The Little Hernia That Could

Can hardly look at this without crying for my grandfather and my hernia

Can hardly look at this without crying for my grandfather and my hernia

What’s a hernia? I wondered when I heard my grandma talking about my grandfather’s.  I didn’t think too much of it– it seemed perfectly natural that an old man would have medical “stuff” to deal with.  To this day, I’m not sure if they were talking about a hernia or hemorrhoids because those two are fused in my brain; they are filed under “uncomfortable stuff that starts with ‘H’ and afflicts old people.”  Neither were any concern of mine.

Yep, no concern of mine at all.  Until of course the dull ache on my left side was diagnosed not as uterine cancer (as I was convinced because I am hysterical and do not understand human anatomy), but potentially the start of a hernia. Maybe.

A frizz-eaking hernia.

“Are you sure it’s not cancer?”  I asked, because oddly I was more prepared for that than a pre-hernia.

It’s not entirely clear why I was begging my doctor to diagnose me with cancer, but there was just something about the hernia.  How could I possibly have the same thing that my grandfather had when he was already a grandfather?  I’ve been ransacking my brain for more memories of my grandfather, but my grandmother’s impression was so much more vivid that she’s almost crowded all of the memories of my grandfather.  All that’s left of my grandfather, the taciturn farmer who wore overalls most days of his life and died in 1981, is an impression of a man who worked hard enough to run a family farm and lost most of his hearing from riding a John Deere tractor.

I’d long ago given up the idea that I’d find common ground with him, a man who died in the same room he was born in inside the old yellow farmhouse outside of Forreston, Texas.  But this thing, this pre-actual-problem on my left side feels like an invisible thread leading me back to him.  We’re connected! I found something that’s ours– it’s a hernia!  I was really seeing the bright side of my almost-hernia.

For the days after the doctor said the “H” word, I felt the ache all the time.  I was convinced my abdominal wall was rupturing, and I hoped my boss wouldn’t be too mad if I collapsed at work.  I looked up med-alert bracelets and taught my children how to dial 911.  I was going to be ready when my “might be a hernia” developed into a code-red emergency.

Then, the ache went away.  I poked and prodded the spot where I’d pictured my intestines rolling out onto  the floor.  And nothing.  Except I’ve now got a bruise from pressing so hard in search of my little hernia that could– could connect me across two generations to my daddy’s daddy and open up a longing for him inside of me that had been dormant for decades.

As the doctor promised, it seems like the issue “resolved itself.”  So it’s gone.  Without it, I feel the thread to my grandfather has been severed.  I feel him slipping back behind the spotlight where my grandmother’s memory glows from center stage.  And I miss him and that dull little ache that had been keeping me company.

Help! I Need A Food Tribe

Foodwise, I’ve lost my tribe, and I’m wandering in a vast, lonely wilderness with a bag of snacks that no one will share with me. (Except my children who would as soon murder me as share them so I hide my snacks from them.)  Trying to keep track of who’s off sugar, who’s avoiding gluten and who’s gone raw foodist is like trying to keep track of my children’s favorite toy– the ground is ever shifting and the stakes are high. 

After years of extreme and rigid eating (think: cabbage, mozzarella cheese and milk every morning for three straight years), I have found my spiritual home in moderation.  Once I got into recovery for my eating disorder, it still took the better part of a decade not to be a full-out freak about food.  A few of my old friends enjoy reminiscing about the days that I would carry a can of tuna fish to a restaurant because… well, at the time I thought I was doing it to “follow my food plan,” but really I was scared to death of not controlling my food.  I wasn’t, however, scared of embarrassing everyone around me by popping open a can of chicken of the sea while everyone else supped on falafel or steak frites.  (Have you ever brought your own can opener and canned meat on a date? Not exactly an aphrodisiac, people.)

A long time ago, I came to terms with the fact that I had used up all my privileges to engage in eating trends.  But now I am feeling like that one child who actually was left behind as everyone else forges a new identity as “paleo” or “vegan” or “nondairy” or “sort of that Crossfit diet but not quite as extreme.”

I’ve asked myself if I am jealous that other people can dabble where I can’t.  The answer: hell yes.   But like an alcoholic who knows she can no longer drink alcohol socially, I know in my marrow that dipping into something extreme or restrictive will trip a trigger in me and I will lose my hard-won battle to be mostly serene about food. 

(I will note Jeff and I are experimenting with more plant-based dinners, but I recently made some pumpkin thing that was so inedible that I was craving chicken wings smothered in ground beef for weeks.)

What I find most upsetting is that I don’t really know anyone who is serene about food.  Everyone’s sure she is eating wrong– too much of this and too little of that.  And who the hell can follow the “advice” out there, which is confusing and scary?  Unless I can figure out how to grow my own food on my fourth floor balcony in downtown Chicago, I have to trust someone else to do that for me.  And I don’t have free time to suss this all out; in my free time– those precious 15 minutes per week– I want to play with my kids, write, and read books for pleasure (not to confirm the 800 ways I am going to die of cancer before the next lunar eclipse).

What I remember and miss about being engaged in a way of eating that was counter-cultural is that it created community.  In my tuna-in-my-purse-days, I knew everyone who ate like I did, and we had a bond.  It was a glue that was thicker than blood.  Now I am only glued to the handful of people who are left who don’t engage in the other sects of eating.  The catchall group.  The “and everyone else” group.  And I guess that’s fine, but it still feels lonely and unspecial.  And ooooh, sweet buttercream on a fudgey chocolate muffin, I sure like feeling special.   It also feels lazy because everyone else is working so damn hard around food, and I just don’t have the bandwidth to pick up a new hobby right now.

So, I’ll soldier on with the only barometer that works for me.  Is there tuna in my purse? No? Then I am doing just fine around food.

Turd By Turd: Bird By Bird’s Sequel and a Warning For New Novelists

About a year and a half ago, I decided to write a book. For “fun.”  Now, I am 104,000 words in and mired down in the mess of it all.  Frankly, I am peeved at all of you.  I was clearly not in my right mind when I embarked on this little hobby.  You could have warned me.  Would it have been that hard to leave a few breadcrumbs of reality in the comments section?

untitled

Fine. It’s not your fault, but I am my charming, blaming mood, and Jeff’s out of town so there is nowhere for the rage to go.

Because I am a good, kind, and decent person, I am sending up the warnings.  Just in case YOU, wonderful, idealistic, ready-to-pen-your-story YOU, are thinking “Hey, I’m going to start my book,” let me tell you the five things I wished I would have known in advance.

  1. Lots of drafts suck, not just the first.  Every writer loves to quote Anne Lamott who famously urged writers to commit to writing those “sh*tty first drafts.” I clung to that advice as I slogged through draft numero uno.  Looks like I’m going to have to write the sequel to Lamott’s Bird By Bird– it’s going to be called Turd By Turd: Write Dozens of Sh*tty Drafts.  Because I am two drafts in and it still smells like a sewer when I open my document.
  2. It gets harder not easier.  In addition to thinking why didn’t I dive into knitting or fracking, I spend a lot of time thinking how the process gets harder.  Because of gems like this that roll through my noggin: You’ve been at this for 18 months and it still sucks.
  3. Not everyone has a story to tell.  Not everyone has a symphony in her, right?  It’s possible I may not have a story to tell.   I may just have a random collection of scenes that mean something to me, but don’t come together as a story that someone else would actually want to read.
  4. I can’t do it OR maybe I don’t want to do it.  In the dark nights when we are out of ice cream and my soul aches for artistic solace, I think I cannot do it. I squirm in my chair and consider ditching the whole thing to watch a Sanford & Son marathon.  It’s entirely possible that I lack the stamina and discipline and passion to carry this book thing to the finish line of official publication.  But also? I am not sure I want to.  Eight more years of this?  Twelve? Twenty?  Maybe I want to spend my evenings laying on the bed watching the moon through the clouds. Maybe I want to watch YouTube videos.  Maybe, just maybe, I don’t want to write a book.
  5. It’s OK to let go.  I know I haven’t given myself permission to just let this go– you know, to let it be something I worked on for almost two years and learned a lot and then moved on. Moving on feels like failure, but then I open the document and see those 104,000 words staring at me and I think I am deeply confused about the definition of failure.

Confidential to Ms. Lamott: I adore your work and think we could really make a go of Turd by Turd.

Starting Law School: An Early “Disaster” Teaches Me A Lesson

Image credit: blueprintprep.com

Image credit: blueprintprep.com

The first step was going to pick up my student ID, and even that required a pep talk.  I can totally do this.  I knew exactly where I was supposed to go but I still checked the address seven times once I got off the train.  I was sure that this whole law school thing would be a series of failures that would end with me deeply in debt and back at my job as an administrative assistant.

As I approached the elevator, I spotted two other 1Ls.  To me, they looked brilliant. Look at those erudite faces– I think I can see their brains through their skulls.  I could picture both of them crossing the stage in three short years to deliver a valedictory speech.  I hoped I would make it to graduation without flunking out to run a Quiznos franchise.

I got my ID.  I’d hoped I would look professional, like someone destined to be a great lawyer.  When I looked at my tiny face in that little square, I thought I looked like a love child of Harry Potter and Shirley Feeney.  Well, this isn’t about looks, I thought, as I shoved the ID to the back of my wallet behind my driver’s license, which wasn’t much better, except if I squinted I looked like Demi Moore in Ghost in that picture.  (By squint, I meant close my eyes and hum that Righteous Brothers’ song.)

The second step was the writing test.  We were all corralled into large lecture halls the Saturday before school started.  Large sheets of pink legal-sized papers were passed out.  I took extra just in case there was a math component, and I needed scratch paper.  The assignment was to compare two fictitious legal systems.  I stared at the directions so long that they no longer looked like letters in the English language.  Sweat beaded on my temples as I thought about the repercussions of failing the intro writing assessment.

Before I’d written a word, other new law students were turning in their assignments and heading out into the August sunshine.

Write something, I commanded.  So, I did.  I wrote two pages of analysis that I thought was good enough to land me in the middle of the pack of 170 law students.  I was the second to last student to finish the exercise– the guy who finished after me was never seen again.

The following Monday was the first day of school.  My hand cramped during Torts as I scrambled to write Every. Single. Word. that the professor said.  The movement of my hand across the paper distracted me from thinking about how I was probably going to fail out of law school because who did I think I was trying to be a lawyer?  I was still writing the holding of Summers v. Tice when everything went quiet.  I looked up and the director of the writing program had come to make an announcement.  “Check your mailbox for the results of your writing assignment.  Those of you who have been flagged as ‘struggling writers’ are required to attend writing clinics for the next three Saturdays,” she explained.

After class, I stalled so no one would see me check my mailbox.  I stuck my hand into my mail folder without looking at it.   I stuffed the papers into my backpack. I watched other students joking about the “Saturday school,” laughing about how humiliating it would be to have to do that.  “I’m pretty sure that’s for ESL students,” a jock with a red Indiana sweatshirt sneered.

Public transportation offered the perfect cloak of anonymity.  I sat next to a man who seemed like his most recent contact with running water was before I’d taken the LSAT; he was in no position to judge me for choking on the writing test.

At the Belmont stop I was ready to look.  I saw the note first: “Please plan to attend the writing clinic.”

I stared at the words so long I almost missed my stop.  A lawyer who can’t write– this is going to be a disaster.

It was months before I understood what the real disaster was: the feeling that I didn’t deserve to be there– that persistent belief that I didn’t belong, couldn’t do it, and wouldn’t succeed.  But I did.  And it wasn’t a disaster at all.  It was the start of my career.

Lena Dunham and Girls: Media Images That Heal

I’m not an especially astute critic of media.  I selectively consume it and don’t have a lot of free time to ponder its significance in my life.  Every now and then something gets my attention.  Take those Dove ads.

Dove-Ad-thumb-600x299-124392

It’s not that I’m cynical, but when those Dove ads came out celebrating women of all body types I just felt like it was too little, too late.  I was already in my mid-thirties before I saw those real-sized woman in their underwear up on a billboard.  By then, I’d already come to terms with normative beauty standards (and how I didn’t feel like I measured up) and worked through my Ally McBeal – Carrie Bradshaw envy/hatred thing.

Honestly, I wasn’t sure how it really helped actual women to see non-emaciated women standing around in their skivvies to sell more soap.

And while I’ve always championed the idea that more diversity in the media– body size, skin color, sexual orientation, religion — was good for everyone, I could never point to a specific image that helped me, though I would say that I loved Natalie from Facts of Life, Nell Carter, and I sure loved to tell anyone who would listen that Marilyn Monroe was a size 12.  “A size TWELVE!”

Then I started watching Girls.  Ya’ll are hip and cutting edge and have been watching it since the beginning, so I’m late to this phenom.

My first reaction: Good lord, where was Lena Dunham when I was in college?!  (Answer: She wasn’t born yet.)

Damn if I don’t blush through 50% of what happens on that show– there’s so much sex and nudity and then more sex.  I have seen Lena Dunham naked more than anyone besides Jeff and my one roommate who rejected clothing at home because she thought it was “patriarchal.”

As if it’s not enough for Ms. Dunham to be a brave, genius wunderkind, she’s also making me feel more beautiful in my own skin.

And it’s because her body looks like mine– it jiggles, it bounces, it flops.  And she gets to have friends, and boyfriends, and dreams, and sex.  Actually, she has a lot of sex judging by my somewhat uptight, Midwestern, Catholic-girls’-school standards.  Sometimes when an episode is over, I lay on my back thank God I invested my entertainment budget dollars in Girls so that I could have this experience of seeing someone who looks like me star in a show that she created, wrote and executive produced.  I feel so filled with hope and promise that I almost believe this world is going to be a better place for my daughter.  She’ll get to see more diverse images of women throughout her wife– before she turns 35.

I love Lena Dunham for creating a main character who isn’t a size 2 or even a size 6, but who doesn’t have to be pigeon-holed “as the fat chick” or the “side kick” to the thinner girls.  I love that she hasn’t dieted or hated on her body or written a story line (so far, as I am only through Season 1) that is all about how her life would be great if only she lost XX amount of weight.  I love her for creating a story about a young woman who’s pursuing writing and love and searching for all the things my heart so longed for (and still does) without reducing her dreams to having a different sized body.  I love that her character reads Saul Bellow, hates running, refers to a Brie cheese binges, and eats straight out of the fridge when she visits her parents’ home in Michigan.  She eats in almost every episode without perseverating, or counting calories or hating on herself for eating something “unhealthy” or “fattening” or “nonorganic” or “full of sugar.”

I love the show for how it ignites my brain and tells that most impressionable part of me– that part that grew up thinking I had to look like Courtney Cox or Kate Moss to have anything good in my life– that being the size I am isn’t a real barrier; it’s just one that I have bought into.

So, it matters.  It matters what images I feed myself because they directly affect how I feel about myself.  And as soon as my daughter is old enough to understand sex, we are going to sit down and watch this together.  Like, say, when she’s 29.

Single Parents: A Tribute

I had a great work story all lined up for ya’ll. It was about the time I interviewed for an entry-level position with McKinsey, that fancy-schmancy consulting firm.  I was 21-years old and full of confidence that they needed me to do whatever it is that consultants do. (I didn’t see the need to burden myself with researching that in advance.)  It was going well until my watch alarm (Timex Ironman) went off, which was bad enough. But for some reason I thought my watch wasn’t professional-looking, on account of I bought it at Wal-Mart that summer while working as a camp counselor in the Hill Country.  So, before the interview I put the watch on way up by my shoulder so the interviewer wouldn’t see it under my shoulder pads.  Twas a little awkward to explain my theories on change management while trying to make my shoulder pad stop beeping.

But I’m not going to tell that story.

 

Look at this! A map with statistics! An Outlaw Mama first!

Look at this! A map with statistics! An Outlaw Mama first!

I feel like talking about how people who parent solo make it work.  Single parents? Um, yeah, heroes, people.  Heroes.  So, this is my tribute post to them– the mothers and fathers out there who do all the things I do, except they also have to do all the stuff my spouse does too (like cook, clean, teach the kids wood working, etc.).  I’m not naming any names, but you know who you are and you deserve a lifetime pass to Costco with a first-shot at all the samples.  Especially the chocolate ones.

I have no idea what it’s like to walk the road you walk.  Normally, Jeff travels for work and because he is as hands-on as any father I have ever seen, it’s a big deal when he’s gone.  No Jeff = no one who knows how to cook or change light bulbs or explain thermodynamics to our children.  It’s a real hardship.  And when he goes, I do lots of things like feed the children cereal for breakfast, lose my mind during bath time and text my friends with my myriad complaints about having to do it alone.

But you know what I’m not? I am not a single mother.  A few nights a week here and there don’t make me a single mother, because when Jeff’s gone (1) it’s temporary, (2) I can call him crying about how our children repel sleep, and (3) I know that when he comes home I’ll get a break.

I’ll just say it right now: I am in awe of single parents.  How they face the juggling act that is parenting without a partner makes me feel like unhinging my jaw in wonder.   I seriously don’t know how  you do it.  I mean, who do you blame when things go awry?  Who do you yell at when you’re at your limit? That’s what spouses are for!

My favorite post this week is about all of this: Being a single, working parent, and trying to fit it all in, including exercise and making our own lunches, not to mention the kids’.  I simply adore Courtenay from Soup Mama.  Check out her post here where she outlines her schedule for a typical day.  Prepare to feel like dying of exhaustion when you are done reading.