Apr 28 2009

Is Exhausted the New Tired?

If 40 is the new 30 then is Exhausted the new Tired?

So, it’s 11pm and I’m just now sitting down to write a little. Just a little so I can clear my head enough to sleep. I had a very productive day at work (yipee, so grateful for a job that I really like!!!) and a very productive day at work means I’m exhausted. But, as a single parent, it’s hard to be exhausted because there’s only me to do what needs to be done (and is still in a laundry basket in my bedroom as I write this).

Now, I’m not a number cruncher, but if I do the math, if there’s only one parent to do the work of two parents, doesn’t the level of tired need to double before it reaches exhaustion?

Spring is a crazy time of year for everyone. For parents, it’s spring sports, spring schedules, later evenings with the kids (they just don’t want to go to bed when it’s still light outside), activities, festivals, weddings, and parties galore!

For single parents, it’s twice as crazy (remember, there’s only one person doing a two-person job) and then, of course, for some of us, there’s dating. Ugh. There’s a lot of embarrassing things I can do on a date but the YAWN is at the top of my personal list…but how can I not be exhausted…oh, I mean tired?

Last week I met a nice man and he wants to take me out. And, as luck would have it, I’d love for him to take me out. The trouble is, when?!? I’m booked every night or I have my kids. Friends who know my insane schedule are smart and book me well in advance. But this poor guy doesn’t really grasp the reality of the life I lead. We can’t find a day this week so we’re already looking at next week. Oh, and just so you know, today is TUESDAY!

I used to worry about my schedule and dating (I’ve had 4 years of experience of juggling personal, professional, and family life). I used to think that I’d miss out on someone because my schedule is so unappealing. But, I’ve been told, and more importantly, now I believe, that when a suitable suitor comes along, the schedule will not be a deterrent. And until that day comes, my schedule might actually help me weed out men who aren’t serious about getting serious.

And, at 40, or 30, or however old I am, I am ready for serious. “Chatters” and “Players” need not respond to this very happy, very grateful, and very exaust…oops, I mean tired single mom.


Apr 17 2009

Make Lemonade!

When life gives you lemons, make lemonade.

I’m an optimist. Sometimes, the way I spin things to the positive even annoys me. But, it’s my nature and I mostly see the glass as half-full.

This quality has been very helpful to me, especially as a single parent. There are times, however, that no matter how much I try to change my expectations, how hard I look for the silver lining, how I reflect upon a situation to see a lesson in it, life just plain ol’ stinks.

And, since Easter Sunday, my life has been odoriferous!

I knew I wouldn’t have the girls Easter Sunday, again. I arranged with their father to see them Sunday afternoon and although it’s not what I wanted, I accepted the situation and ended up having a wonderful day of mass, tennis, brunch with friends, and a lovely walk with friends for hours at Piedmont Park, and Starbucks in the sunshine. I got lemons, I made lemonade.

Then, as the day waned, I noticed I didn’t get the “We’re on the road” call. So I called. They got a late start. Traffic on the highway. Blah, blah, blah. Okay, more lemons, I’ll make more lemonade.

So, I made a wonderful steak dinner and got all dolled up in my Easter dress. I welcomed the girls when they arrived and we immediately sat down to dinner. Yummy, refreshing lemonade…

My youngest started crying as soon as she saw dinner. “I want Chick-fil-A!” She whined. I ignored her. I kept talking as if she wasn’t ruining my dinner. After a while, my oldest started crying. I asked why. She said “Don’t talk to me!” I placed my napkin on my plate and simply said t “Happy Easter” and then I walked into my bedroom, got on my pajamas, and cried.

Dramatic? Yes. But it was sincere. I didn’t want to yell. I had no partner sitting at the table reminding my children to thank me for preparing an Easter meal. I had no partner backing me up, supporting me, helping me deal with the girls’ emotions. I was all alone and sometimes, it’s just too much.

On this occasion, no matter how much sugar I put in my lemonade it just wouldn’t taste good. I won’t let that discourage me from trying again. Remember? I’m an optimist. So, when I reviewed the day, I realized that maybe it wasn’t me. I think the lemons were rotten. Very rotten. Rotten from spending 4 days with no discipline, loads of sugar, older cousins, and missing Mommy on a very important holiday.

When two broken hearts spend a few days like that, they get rotten. The good news is, as Easter represents, there is life after death. Those rotten lemons are buried and will nurture the earth. The seeds will sprout and then there’s a tree and lemons will ripen and fall. It’s life, after all, and we all get another chance to make lemonade.


Apr 2 2009

The talk. Again.

TALK: to deliver or express in speech
http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/talk

Bedtime. It’s the time when I’m so tired I can barely stand it. It’s also the time when my girls want to have a heart to heart. They want to share with me the intimate details of their day. I know this, yet, I often find myself feeling much too tired for it. I’m getting better at it but it’s still a challenge.

Tonight, as I was putting my five-year-old to bed, she said, “I feel sad for you because you’re divorced.” Ah, here it is. THE talk. Again.

I’ve been through it with my oldest and now I’m doing it again. From time to time the topic is revisited and although it’s getting easier to remember the script (“Your father and I divorced because we couldn’t stop fighting. We tried and tried but we just couldn’t make it work. We both love you very much. Our divorce is not your fault. It’s ours.”).

What doesn’t get easier, however, is watching the tears well up in those beautiful, blue eyes. Watching the sadness, seeing the pain. And, there’s nothing I can do to stop it. Divorce hurts.

When I told the girls’ pediatrician that I was getting divorced she looked so sad. Then I asked her, while fighting back tears, what I can do, what I should do to make it as easy as possible for the girls. She said “Tell them all the time that it’s not their fault. Tell them over and over and over again. They’ll always need to hear it. Keep telling them it’s not their fault.” And so I do. Every time it comes up I ask them if they understand that it’s not because of them. They’re good little girls. They say the right thing (“Yes, Mommy, I know it’s not my fault.”).

But, I’ve been in their shoes. I know that no matter how many times I read books or was told that it wasn’t because of me, I blamed myself for my own parents’ divorce. If only I’d behaved more, talked less, behaved less, talked more…

So, if you have to go through a divorce yourself, find someone you trust to talk to. Actually find five people. You will need to talk about it so many times. You’ll need to tell your story again and again so you can begin to make sense of the madness and heal.

And remember that your kids need to talk about it too. Again and again. And just when you think “Whew, I’m glad that phase is over.” They ask about it. And you’re having THE talk. Again.

NOTE: I highly recommend Dinosaurs Divorce by Marc Brown.


Mar 5 2009

The Worry Mask…

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Worry is an emotion in which a person feels anxious or concerned about a real or imagined issue…

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Worry

I’ve written about guilt in parenting and that guilt is an attempt to change the past. I can’t. The past is gone. But what about the future?

There’s so much potential for failure! As a single parent, there’s no one standing beside me to share the blame. I can’t look over to a husband and say “Well, he…” or even “Well, we…” It’s just me and that makes me wonder, is worry just a way for me to avoid being responsible for my decisions? Is it just a way to mask a deeper issue? Am I afraid of responsibility? Ouch!

“Responsibility is the ability to respond.”

Not respond perfectly, just respond. But what if my response isn’t the right one? What if I’m *GASP* wrong? Is my fear of responsibility just a mask to hide my perfectionism?

I love being right and despise being wrong, especially if someone else points it out! I used to enjoy being a perfectionist. Then I had children. Children have no problem pointing out when I do something wrong. And, I can take it from the kids, usually. Is my perfectionism a mask for something else? Oh, no! Say it isn’t so…