Blog Archives

Illness and the Single Parent

Parenting is tough enough when there are two parents in the home.  It is even more challenging when a parent has to parent solo. There is no longer another person to help out with getting kids to various activities and events.  There isn’t another person to help with the cooking, grocery shopping and household chores.  By the time the afternoon taxi runs are done, dinner is finished and cleaned up, a single parent is often ready to collapse, but then, there is  homework to supervise, or television to monitor, or any number of things that require tending to.  The life of a single parent is often one of sheer fatigue and exhaustion.  And that’s if the parent is in good health.  Should a single parent come down with the flu, life then becomes impossible.

I used to think, when I was married, that moms were never able to get sick.  My husbands, when they got sick, collapsed and could have cared less about what went on around them.  And I, being the dutiful wife, made sure they were unable to sleep undisturbed until whatever it was passed.  Sadly, I have never had these kindnesses reciprocated.  During the few times I did get sick, I was not allowed to sleep, I was constantly interrupted by children’s demands.  I was still expected to cook and clean as if nothing was the matter.  In my second marriage, I contracted walking pneumonia and had just been told by the doctor that I was ill enough to be admitted to the hospital.  She left the choice up to me and I went home.  My sensitive husband, having just heard the doctor’s diagnosis, decided to have all of his relatives (some 23 or more) over at our house for an afternoon. Imagine it.  23  people, most of them loud, obnoxious children, in our 1400 square foot home.  I should have taken up the offer for hospitalization.   This is just one of many reasons why he is now known to me as “The Evil Ex”.

This weekend, I was sick.  Not just runny nose, coughing kind of sick.  I was flat-on-my-back-couldn’t-move sick.  It started out as a sore throat, and the next day every muscle in my body hurt so badly I was nearly paralyzed with pain.  I was a little congested, but not much, and no cough.  No nausea, except for a few hours one evening.  I just could not move, and I had the worst headache ever…for three days.   I haven’t been that sick in a very long time.

Needless to say, everything in my world stopped.

No laundry was done.  No groceries shopped for.  No housecleaning happened.  Nothing.

In my world, if these things don’t get done during the weekend, they don’t get done until the next weekend, and that creates problems for us in getting through the week. Since my dryer is still not working, I had to wait until I had enough energy and strength to haul the wet laundry down the stairs and into the car to go to the laundromat and dry them.  Then, of course, there’s the return trip where I haul the dry laundry up the stairs and put it away. Fixing meals?  Thank goodness I had some of those quick microwave burritos on hand or my kids would have starved.  That combined with the fact that it was a weekend where my kids were all at their other homes made it possible for me to get some rest and sleep it off.  I’m feeling better now.  Still weak.  Dizzy.  But I can move.  I have some energy to do small tasks, if I rest in between.

At times like these, I truly wonder how we single parents make it through.  I am grateful my kids are older and can do most things for themselves.  They understand that I’m not up to par and they pretty much leave me alone. My heart goes out to those single parents dealing with younger children, and fewer resources or support systems than I have.  I wonder how they make it through.

 

Uncle

Ever had one of those weeks when you were a day ahead of yourself?  You thought it was, say, Thursday, but it was really only Wednesday.  All day long, you’re excited as anything that tomorrow’s Friday, then somewhere, oh, around 4:00 pm, you realize that you were off by a day.  Welcome to my world.  I don’t know what I was thinking in my last post.  Eleven days left till payday?  Ha!  I don’t even know how I arrived at that number, except that I must have been so exhausted when I wrote that post.  It registered today, when someone mentioned that it was only 14 more days until Halloween.  I then remembered my 11 day thinking and got myself all in a wad trying to figure out how I even came up with the whole 11 days until payday thing anyway.  Early onset Alzheimer’s?  Clearly, this was more than just a minor soon-to-be-senior moment.  Even so, the disappointment was not nearly as great as it might have been, had I been a day ahead of myself.  I’m in the same place I was when I wrote Countdown.  Nothing much has changed, except, I’m adding another thing that I’m counting down to.

A few days ago, my daughter arrived home late from an activity.  She was in tears.  She’d just rear-ended someone.  It seems that her little sister had texted her, the phone vibrated, startling my daughter.  She glanced down to see where the noise was coming from (the car had been totally silent) and when she did, she hit the car in front of her, who apparently had either slowed or stopped.  I don’t know many more details than this.  The accident happened so recently.  My daughter is 18, so she will be dealing with the insurance company, the DMV, and whatever entities she must in order to resolve this, as much as possible, on her own.  Fortunately, she is fine.  Our vehicle, however, is not. Welcome to another completely unexpected financial disaster.  This time?  The $500 deductible.  The best part?  This is the third time this vehicle has been in an accident like this, this calendar year. (Each incident involved a different driver.)  In fact, I just had the same repair done on this car in January.

This year has been, for me, the absolute worst on record.  The year my dad died, 1984, was pretty bad, but only that part of the year.  The rest of the year had some pretty wonderful aspects to it.  All of the years between 2000-2005, when I was married to The Evil Ex, were completely disastrous. This year, however, I just can’t catch a break. There has been one disaster after another each month, all year long.  Just when I hope life might let up just a little and grant me a reprieve from the deluge of bad luck, another crisis occurs. I’m finally calling “Uncle.”  I really can’t take another disaster.  I’m going to be glad to be done with this year.

I’m counting down the days to January 1, 2013.

2 months and 13 days left.

Unless the world ends in December.

Interviews

Back in the day, when I was younger, squeaky clean, freshly stamped with that Bachelor’s Degree, and looking for work, I had to go through the arduous,  intimidating, and emotionally exhausting process of interviewing.  I hated it.  I hated the way I was often scrutinized, picked apart, rejected.  And that was if I even got the interview.  Because I was able to present myself well on paper, and because I legitimately had some decent grades, a fair amount of extracurricular campus leadership involvement, and held down a 30-40 hour job, I usually got any interview I sought.  The problem is, I’d crash and burn on the interviews.  The only time I didn’t crash and burn on an interview was the interview for the job I have now.  Of course, by the time I interviewed for this job, I was in my 30’s, had a bunch more education under my belt, and was far more confident in my abilities to do the job I was seeking. Looking back, I was so terribly frightened and unsure of myself  in those wide-eyed, innocent days, that it is amazing that I got the jobs I did get, when I got them, that gave me the experience which ultimately landed me a position in a nationally recognized and cutting edge training program for the profession I am currently in.

I was young and unsure. I felt inadequate. I was afraid to fail. All of this showed through in those early interviews, I am sure. Like I said, I’m surprised I ever got a job to begin with. Read the rest of this entry

Fear

I wonder now how they felt.

Those old people, the adults in my life.  The ones in charge.

They always seemed so confident, so capable, so unafraid.

Answering questions, managing home, paying bills, making sure I made it to adulthood

alive and as safely as possible.

Then, as I aged, they became those older adults, not really very old but sort of  like the wrinkled ones.  You could see it coming in them.  A crease around the eyes that wasn’t there before.  A few more strands of gray that weren’t there yesterday.  Bits of evidence here and there.

I wonder how they felt.

Not yet old, but on the doorstep of aging.

Not yet wrinkled or frail, but barely peeking in through the window of aging decline.

How did they feel?

Just before the door opened and they were swept in to the old house where those with white hair, trembling limbs and a certain number of years all must eventually reside.

How did they feel?

Just before the world stopped looking at them, stopped touching them, stopped noticing them.

Did they feel the way I do right now?

Irony

It isn’t supposed to work this way. Life isn’t supposed to be bad, really, really bad, so-bad-it-sucks bad and still be enjoyable.

So, go figure. My finances suck. We’ve been over that. My love life is non-existent. I just had a guy I supported walk out on me after two years. He gave me three days’ notice and he was gone. Haven’t heard a word from him since. After my two epic fails at marriage, I don’t know which hurt worse, to have the marriages end, or him walk out after I invested so much financially and emotionally for two.fucking.years. It is now all water under the bridge, but at times, it still stings.

I’m at an age and in a demographic where there isn’t much dating action, and if there is, it isn’t serious, nor is it even remotely authentic. Face it, after 45, there are so many obstacles to overcome, so much history to wade through, so many people’s scrutiny you have to undergo before a relationship can even be viable, let alone long term. I’ve given up on that area of my life ever being a source of pleasure or happiness. People who really know me, will know what a big deal that is. Most people tend to understand that it is the nature of the beast these days. Dating after divorce is, at best, a difficult thing, and unlike wine, this does not improve with age. Oh, to be 35 again. Before the wrinkles. Before the mistakes. Before the calendar reveals the stigmatizing number of years you’ve been on this planet (because you cannot lie about that).

In spite of all that, the little surprise I’m experiencing is this: I’m actually having fun. I’m enjoying life more than I ever have. I’m happy, in spite of the fact that nothing (except my delightful children) is as I would have expected it and most of it reeks of pathetically miserable failure. I can’t keep a relationship. I can’t catch a break financially. I rent, on purpose, instead of owning. My car is ready to self destruct at any moment. I should sell the thing and try, if possible, to get some money out of it to put down on a more reliable car. But…how to do that? It’s crazy. I have more problems facing me than solutions. I have experienced more endings in the last year than beginnings. I have more reason than ever to despair, instead of hope. Read the rest of this entry

It’s Raining Again

Life turns on a dime. One moment, you are sailing along enjoying everything, even though everything might not be perfect. You’re thinking to yourself that, even though things may have been rough, they are now looking up a bit. You worked a little extra, got a little money set aside for Christmas; something that hasn’t happened in years. Then one wonderful day, as you finally, just barely, allow yourself to begin to believe that there might be hope for a brighter financial future for you and your family, you get an email. Read the rest of this entry

Honesty & Three Sheets To The Wind

One of the people I’m corresponding with  from the sleazeball online dating sight has been pretty decent.  I can tell right now, without ever meeting him that he’s not going to be someone I fall madly and passionately in love with.  If there is chemistry of anything more than a platonic friendship nature, I will be astounded. The man’s really nice, intelligent, thoughtful, and maybe, if I weren’t so damaged from my history with men, I might be more interested in him as something more than “friends”.  I don’t know.

Anyway, I asked him what he was doing on said sleazy dating site.  He responded with a lengthy tale which included information about his divorce, financial situation, job history, etc. This just proves my theory that, “So, what is such a nice guy like you doing on a dating site like this,” is a perfect question to ask if you want to get some really intimate information from a person.  They usually end up spilling everything about their past and present to you. I got a lot of information, all of which reinforced that this is truly a genuinely decent guy.  None of which convinced me that he was my next Prince Charming.  So, of course, when he asked the question in return, I threw the game. Read the rest of this entry

Dilemma

I’ll cut to the chase.  I’m an idiot. Who signs up on an online dating sight at the most busy time of their professional and personal year? I do. Like I said…I’m an idiot.  I admit it. I have only one excuse. I was three sheets to the wind when I did the signing up. Yep.  Had one of those down days.  One of those days that proves living a block from the local liquor store is not necessarily the benefit you might think it would be.  I don’t know the particular circumstances.  I think I successfully drank them out of my memory.  I just remember it was one of those days, which, for whatever reason I was feeling blue about the whole situation that transpired in my life recently.  Actually, I wasn’t really feeling blue about that situation if the truth be known.  I was feeling blue that I’d wasted the last two years of my youth on the man. Okay, enough with the drama. It is also very possible that I was feeling happy.  I feel that a lot these days.  In fact, I almost get giddy with the lack of stress and the ease with which my family functions right now. No more walking on eggshells.  No more having to ask permission or wonder when the next derisive comment is going to come. No more worrying about money.  Since I’m not paying  his bills, there’s an extra amount in our coffers this month, and that makes me genuinely silly with the giddy factor. Read the rest of this entry

What’s Holding You Back? Could It Be…Reality?

Lately, I’ve read a great deal of people writing and exhorting things like this: You can be whatever you want to be.  You can do whatever you want to do.  You decide.  If you don’t like  your life the way it is now, make the necessary changes and create the life you desire.

Okay, seriously?  This is 20-year-old thinking.

I mean, when I hear someone say that I am in complete control of my destiny and that any minute I can just unilaterally shelve everything and make a change (that works for me and me alone) then, well, I’m thinking this person is young, and so very optimistic (I do applaud this) and they do not have children.

So, let me dial it back about three decades for you.

I was one of those who believed exactly that:  I was in charge of my future.  I was in charge of my life.  If I didn’t like something, then I could make decisions and change it on a moment’s notice.  It could be the 7:30 am class I’d signed up for which I hated so I figured I’d change it, (I’m so not a morning person) or it could be the fact that I’d rather be living in the San Francisco Bay Area instead of the Pacific Northwest, or the Southwest, or the East Coast, take your pick.  It could be any number of things.  When I was younger (24+)  and had no real obligations, there really was nothing holding me back. Nothing.  I’m not kidding.  I made great money as a 25-year-old.  I was making bank and had no obligations.  The few credit cards I had, I could pay off in full each month (gross amounts of money I wish I now had). In addition, I had time.  I had time to regroup my losses.  I had time to correct my errors and regain my losses (if there were any).  I simply had time…or so I thought.  But…we don’t ever really know how much time we have…and we are never an island unto ourselves.

The reality is, you can’t always make the decisions you’d like, because you aren’t always completely in control of your life, unless you are an island.

I know.  That sounds blasphemous to many.  Sorry, but it’s true.  As much as I’d like to send it out to the universe that I am this or that…the reality is…what the reality is.

Think of it this way, if you are your own person and you have no obligations or commitments to others then, maybe, you can just up and do whatever you like whenever you want and, possibly, there really is nothing or no one holding you back. This is, at once, the best argument for remaining single forever and, at the same time, for leaving the single state as quickly as you can.   I feel for you if you are in this place.

The reality is, that as life goes on, life becomes less and less about us and more and more about those we love and what is best for them.

For the average 25-year-old, there aren’t many people you have to consult to make decisions about your life.  If you are lucky, your parents will support you in whatever adventure you take on.  You also, if you are lucky (meaning you did what you needed to do to make sure you were employable at a better-than-minimum-wage rate) have an income that provides for your basic needs and allows you the ability to make some choices with your life. In addition, you have the golden opportunity  that I call “TIME”.  At 25, you have an entire lifetime ahead of you.  If you make a bad choice, you have time to regroup and mitigate the losses.  It’s a very different story when you are say, 50 or 60.

So, let’s consider the mantra of “What’s Holding You Back”  (clearly a 20+-year-old perspective) from a more seasoned stance.

As a person well over 40, let me tell you “What’s Holding Me Back”:

  • I would love to consider another career field.  While it isn’t entirely impossible that I make the switch, the reality is that I am currently in a field where I am required to have at least a graduate degree.  The cost of this for me: $46,000. I have about 15 years to pay this off while I try to feed and clothe my children on a salary that is a fraction of what most other professional people make. I can’t possibly consider taking out more loans for a career field switch, especially when the likelihood is that I cannot have these loans paid off before I retire in my current profession.  It is wishful thinking to believe that I can completely jump ship on the professional field I’ve been in since 1985, and think I’m A.) going to be able to fund this life change, and B.) be able to pay off the debt in the time I have left to work.  This is just not going to happen.  The reality of economics and time hold me back here.
  • I would love to sell everything I own, find a job in a BIG CITY (read San Francisco Bay Area or something really decadent back on the East Coast), but the reality is this:  I have children.  My children have friends and lives that I have to consider in every decision I make.  I can’t just quit my job and move.  I have to consider how that’s going to roll with the kids that the respective ex’s.  (Yeah, I hate that part.)

The  reality is, no one is completely in charge of their destiny.  At 20, I might have had more freedom to make more choices.  At a much older age, this is not the case.  I now have children, ex’s, significant others, and employers to consider…and if you think considering the employer isn’t important consider this:  I work in a career field where, if I move, I take a significant pay cut and I lose the security of knowing I have a job in years to come. I’m sorry, but I have children to feed, clothe, and hopefully prepare and send to college.  Me, as a single mother of four,  taking a pay cut, or even risking it, is so not an option.

So…what’s holding me back?

Really?  You’re kidding me, right?

Because that’s the question a 20-something would pose.

What’s holding me back is my obligation to the other people in my life that I am responsible for and the reality is, I can’t just ditch that for something that works for me, but fails them. So, I remain in a place, that I like, but I don’t “LOVE” and I do a job that I love in a place that is, at times, troublesome and which makes me wonder if there isn’t something  better elsewhere…yet…I endure it, not because I have no desire to change, but because it is best for those who depend upon me.   All of this is holding me back from what I would personally love to be doing…if I had my druthers.

The reality is, I am responsible to others and for others, and it is no longer just about me. I cannot make these  decisions in a vacuum, excluding their input or perspectives.

So, here’s what’s holding me back:  It’s my decision to recognize that it isn’t always just about me and that sometimes, I must think of others before I think of myself, even if those choices aren’t ones I would choose in isolation.

What’s holding me back is my love for the other  important people in my life versus me choosing to make life all about me and what works for just me.

The Company Picnic

Most people have one day a year that they dread.  For some, it is the day they have to finally own up and pay the taxes.  For others, it is the particular day of the holidays when they have to sit next to one of the least favorite outlaws at dinner.  Some dread the day they have to put a child on the plane bound for dad’s for the summer.  For me, it’s The Company Picnic.

My company is a rather large organization with 19 offices in three cities.  We serve over 13,000 clients annually in a personal face-to-face environment. Our clients receive services from us, some of them for over 20 years.  We also have affiliates in other communities nationwide. So, essentially, my organization is a large one.  But it is dreadfully small on Company Picnic Day. As long as I live, I will never cease to question how I can be in a basketball gymnasium filled with thousands of people and never see a person I know, yet, take that same stadium and fill it with thousands of people from my company on what we dub as Company Hug Day, and I can find The Evil Ex even if I’m not looking (and I always am, just to avoid him).  This year, not only was The Evil Ex present and accounted for, but so was his Wife, who apparently has now been hired by the company and working in the same office he is working in.  To add insult to injury, his son’s wife, a cute young thing was also there. Now, I have nothing against their happiness, or the fact that apparently there is some real nepotism going on which I don’t understand, because The Evil Ex is not even good at what he supposedly does for a living. Why would the Powers That Be hire anyone associated with him?  I don’t get it. (In fact, the company had grounds and could have fired him 12 years ago.  I know.  I was there.  They didn’t.  Instead, in a classic case of sexual discrimination, they demoted me (the more experienced and qualified female employee…and I’m not making this up or being bitter…I can prove I’m the more qualified and skilled individual) and promoted him.  And why?  Because I foolishly made the mistake to fish off the company dock.  (I was not informed that this only works out for the men in the equation.) I was also too fearful and intimidated to take on the legal battle.   What I take issue with is that it just seems unfair that those who are so inept, succeed over those who are more competent …or seem to.   Okay, the job situation ticks me off, but he’s also inept relationally.  How is it that he gets a relationship though he’s a jerk and I’m a decent person of good character and I can’t find a match that will last to save my soul???  Yeah, let’s not go there.

He is a creeper.  I had a restraining order on him.  He has less than the normal minimum days with our daughter. He should have been fired.  But that’s not how the world works. They retain the men. And fire or demote the women, essentially ruining their careers…especially if they get pregnant.

I guess I am still bitter about all of that.  It doesn’t eat at me…at least 364 days of the year it doesn’t eat at me…but on Company Picnic Day…when I see him representing the most prestigious office in our region (think monied clients and a comfortable corner office to work out of)…the injustice of it all floods my psyche.  You see, back in the day, before we decided to fish, before he decided to stalk me and later abuse me, I worked at one of those elite locations, with that elite clientele, with a very comfortable corner office, with windows, all done up in blue.  My life was made. Until he entered the scene.  And I’m not bitter when I say this, the man is incompetent.  He can’t handle his own personal matters, let alone those required for his job.  The deal is this:  he’s a great liar and pretender.  He can present himself to so many as something he really is not.  He has a way of lying about things so that, while preposterous, they sound believable.  For example, this summer he perjured himself under oath.  He told the judge he was still providing insurance for all of his children due to the fact that one’s children are now covered until they are 26.  The reality:  he has 7 children…not including the one we have together which makes 8. Of his 7 children, 5 of them are adults, and 4 of them are married, over the age of 26, and/or have their own insurance coverage. So, he told the judge he was paying insurance and covering all these people and what it shakes down to is, he’s covering exactly two other children (besides himself and his wife) and not our daughter. I was stunned.  I was not able to reply to this statement because I wasn’t given adequate opportunity. He lied.  He wins.  He puts himself off as this great man of character and of God, but then he doesn’t  pay his half of the medical expenses and he’s an asshole when it comes to negotiating the differences regarding our daughter.  In fact, there is no negotiation. He just does what he’s going to do and I am left dealing with the fallout.  That’s  how our marriage was.  Can I expect anything different in our divorce?

So, he won in the work arena.

He won in the court arena this summer.

And today, apparently, he’s winning in the Love Arena, because he was there with his wife and daughter-in-law, while I was there, completely, undeniably,  and obviously, ALONE.

And by alone, I mean really alone.  The last couple of years I told myself it didn’t matter.  And, really, it didn’t, because I didn’t have his wife and daughter-in-law in my face at close proximity. (Yes, our last names all end with the same letter so I must attend all the excruciating meetings with them.) But also, I knew I was going home to someone.  I knew then, at least, I was in the relational ball park.  Last year at this time it appeared I was winning or, at least, staying in, that particular game.  This year, it is a totally different story. I’ve been kicked off the island, or my partner couldn’t leave my island fast enough.  My inability to maintain a relationship over time is glaringly apparent to me, to the world, to the company and, worst of all, to the Evil Ex and his family who now, apparently, works for our company.

This does not feel good.

I mostly don’t mind being alone, but never having a significant other in my life was simply not what I ever wanted in life.  In fact, even more than kids, I wanted that quality relationship with another adult. I gained in the kids arena, but apparently I’m a complete flop in the relationship arena.  This just doesn’t always sit well with me.  In fact, at times, like today, when I am faced with my failure, it is incredibly painful.  I wonder why he gets the happy relationship though he never spoke to me ever, once, in six years, in his passive-aggressive abusive manner of dealing with people. He is disrespectful, unreliable, and irresponsible and all sorts of other things I don’t want to take up space with here.  How does he get love and I can’t find a quality partner to save my soul? He’s a taker, an abuser, and people flock to him.  I don’t take, I give, I deal honestly and fairly, and men use me up and move on.  No one stays.  What’s wrong with me?????

So I posted that video and post about being Alone.  I’ve made my peace with being alone.  I can handle it.  I’m content most of the time.

The truth is, I’ve lied.  I like being in relationship with a man. I like the companionship.  I don’t like being alone…in that way. I especially don’t like the idea that this is the end of the relational line for me (and the sad reality is that age being what it is, and men being what they are, it is the end).  Like I said, most of the time, this is not an issue with me.  I enjoy my boring, little life.  I have wonderful friends. I love my kids.  I’ve been blessed with four beautiful, intelligent, dynamic individuals as children, who are so successful, in spite of the fact that they had so many risk factors (divorce, poverty, etc.) working against them. I can’t take credit for that.  They chose that. The work I do daily matters, not just to the people I work with, but to the people they, in turn, impact.  It’s an amazing job and I am good at it. I’m grateful for that.  And if you asked any of my friends they would tell you and they do tell me that I am an amazing person.

But…

at the end of the day…

when the kids have gone home to their families…

the friends are busy with their own lives…

…and I can no longer work

…I am alone.

I don’t exactly want the highlight of my days to be my latest, greatest Facebook status update.

I don’t exactly like the idea of rocking alone on the front porch of the old folks’ home.

Apparently, I’m just not amazing enough.

I hate Company Picnic Day.

%d bloggers like this: