Thursday, September 6, 2012

Why Being a Single Mother Is Freaking Awesome

Years ago, when I was a young single mother who worked two jobs and still had no money to pay any bills, wasn't receiving a dime in child support, had no other assistance from the father of my child; struggled to figure out child care arrangements so I could work, struggled to pay the medical bills for all  the required vaccinations, struggled to keep the electricity turned on, struggled to maintain my sanity, struggled to maintain my sense of self, struggled to maintain some semblance of normalcy in an otherwise completely un-normal situation, I received a phone call from my happily married cousin:

"I just don't know how you do it." I could hear her shaking her head through the phone line. "I just feel so bad for you."

Bad? For me?

I mean, yeah, I struggled. But so does everybody. Just because you're married doesn't mean struggles suddenly disappear. But bad for me? What?! Obviously she didn't know the perks of being single. And, so, I enlightened her:

Reasons Why Being a Single Mother Is Freaking Awesome

1. I don't have to share the remote with a man who lacks the ability to choose interesting television programming. No mind numbing ESPN marathons in this house! It's all PBS, HGTV and Sweet Home Alabama for the 14th time this weekend.

2. I can have six different types of shampoos and conditioners in my shower. Yes, my shower. My shower that has no scuzzy man razors or a 4-year old bottle of Head and Shoulders (seriously, use that shit up already). I can have flowery soaps and bath oils and it's all mine. (Plus, no hairs that aren't mine. There is immense pleasure in that fact alone.)

3. I don't have to deal with your crazy family. Yep. You want junior to spend time with Grandboppy then you get him ready, you pack the diaper bag, and you listen to the incessant ranting about how you failed at life because you didn't succeed as a professional football player and I'll be here drinking a glass of Riesling while watching Sweet Home Alabama for the 15th time this weekend. Enjoy!

4. FREE BABYSITTER! Twice a month I get an entire weekend to myself. Let that sink in: an entire weekend. to myself. Two times each month. Sure, I miss my kids. Yes, it's damn hard to let them go and watch them walk into the unknown world of Daddy's Influence and yes, I pray good and hard that they'll be okay, they won't be scared, and they won't be scarred - physically and emotionally. And then I give it all to God and call up my girlfriends to meet them out for dinner and drinks at my fave little restaurant by the lake. I come home when I want. I sleep in the next day as long as I want. I do the next day whatever I want. How many of you married Mamas get two weekends to yourself each and every month?

5. I can spend my money however I want. No thank you, I don't think I'll be putting any money towards the super-duper high-powered table saw that comes complete with neon light show coordinated with music. I think I'll be buying this here Wickford Sandpiper towel set for my bathroom, thankyouverymuch.

6. No one snores, kicks, moves around, mumbles or otherwise annoys me when I sleep. That's because I have this entire comfortable, cozy bed to myself. If you're a single mom and this isn't working for you then you must immediately (a.) buy a mattress you deserve and (b.) tell those kids that if they need to come into your room in the middle of the night they must sleep on the floor. No kid ever died from sleeping on some blankets at the foot of the bed; however, many children suffer at the hands of an exhausted, overtired Mama every day. You deserve your sleep. Make it your mantra.

7. Supper is infinitely easier when you're single. Does this have mushrooms in it? I don't really like spicy stuff. My Mom's lasagna is much better. Guess what? If I feel like having Kentucky Fried Chicken, I'll be having Kentucky Fried Chicken. If I feel like a Red Raspberry Spinach Salad, I'll be having a Red Raspberry Spinach Salad. Let's be honest, those kids only eat macaroni and cheese and chicken nuggets anyway.

8. My time is my time. If I want to spend it cleaning, I'll clean.... and I won't have to listen to anyone insinuate I don't spend enough time with the kids. If I want to spend it playing a mean game of Picturika with the kids, I'll play.... and I won't have to listen to anyone insinuate I don't spend enough time cleaning the house. I can spend my time reading or running or going back to school to get my degree in something you always thought wasn't a big deal but it is a big deal to me.

9. I don't have to unfurl any man's crusty, balled up socks in order to wash them. That makes laundry way much more enjoyable than it otherwise is.

10. My life is filled with hope. Being a single mom is a constant reminder of how strong and independent and vibrant I am. Some days are hard. In fact, some days are so hard I don't know how I'm ever going to get through it. But I do. Somehow, I find a way to drag my tangled, broken self through another day - sometimes with a lot of tears and fear and worry along with me - but I make it through. And then, when I'm lying there with my head on my fluffy pillow that doesn't stink of man grime because someone was too lazy to take a shower before bed last night, I think to myself, I did it. And no one can ever dispute that fact.

Being married isn't the cure all some people think it is. And being a single mom isn't the lonely pit of sorrow some people make it out to be. You make your life what you want to make of it. Either scenario can be hell if you see it that way. Go ahead; wallow in self-pity for a bit. Hold your pity party - I'm not judging; I've been there way too many times to count. But then get out of it. Embrace who you are in this moment. And let your children see your strength. Because that's how they'll learn to draw on their own strength when they get knocked for a curve later on in life. They'll be able to point to you and say, "I was raised by a single mother; she showed us what strong is." And no one will be able to dispute that fact.

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

My Next House is Going to be a Studio Apartment so I Won't Have Expectations

If you haven't read The Forgotten Garden by Kate Morton, do it. You'll love it! Or you won't. But either way you'll procrastinate doing the laundry because it's kind of a long book.

Personally, I loved it. And not just because it gave me something to do that made me appear calm, cool and completely unaffected when I was otherwise seething at the ridiculousness of our remodeling project discussions, which is now being referred to as well, you're the one who wanted to buy the stupid house in the first place. (Because we're nothing if not mature and respectful during our discussions.)

That discussion usually leads to the well, maybe if I'm so stupid, perhaps I don't know how to make dinner and you'll just have to starve to death discussion. (Because we're nothing if not adult and can separate out our differences without holding irrational grudges.)

That usually leads to another discussion, and then to another, and after a few more turns we eventually find ourselves at Really?! So every single man in the entire U.S. of A leaves pieces of shaved facial hair all over the bathroom counters and every single woman is okay with it except for ME.  I just happen to be the only female in the entire population that is bothered by it! (Like you haven't gone there.)

So, being the good partner that I am, I have taken out three more books from the library in an effort to avoid any future discussions about electrical outlet spacing or whether or not we keep the bathroom sink or why the tile floor I picked out won't work because then we have to lift the clawfoot tub and it's a lot easier (and cheaper) to put in some vinyl... it's all too much and I'd do a lot better if I could just rip out the picture from the magazine and hand it to him and then he would build it. Because that's how my remodeling process goes.