I’ve been darn lucky to raise such a really good kid.
I spent a lot of days worrying about how I would put food on the table, afford medicine when he got sick, and whether or not I was doing all I could to give him what he needed.
I stayed home for so many sick days I thought I’d lose my job. I stayed up late cooking and putting loot bags together for Hallowe’en parties and Valentine’s day parties, and Santa surprises. And I loved every single minute I’ve had with my child.
As one of my older and wiser gal-pals told me one day while I was laying like a beached whale on the sofa, pregnant and sick, “Guilt will be a constant for you once this baby is born. You’ll feel guilty about everything. You’ll always think you can do better.”
I remember thinking that I wish she would just shut up. I remember thinking that all of these little nuggets of wisdom were huge warning signs during what should be the happiest time of my life. But they were right. As a mother, you never stop worrying that your child is happy, warm, well-fed and as they get older, not being a little shithead.
Becoming a mother was the single-most amazing and terrifying thing that ever happened to me. I felt strong and fierce and terrified and vulnerable all at the same time.
So here we are, on the cusp of having this child officially become an adult, and it’s all been worth it.
Luckily both parents get along as well as possible, and I believe we’ve provided him a good solid foundation for making decisions and embracing life.
Friends have been a wonderful support, surrounding my son and I with time, listening ears and rounds of congratulations.
But as a single parent even moments of joy and success have been bittersweet. For the most part, I attend all of his activities alone. I feel great pride, joy and a sense of accomplishment with no one really to share it with. Information about new opportunities comes and goes, and at the end of the day, it’s on my own that I wonder about them, rationalize, hope and dream for my child. There is no partner to turn to for another perspective.
What I have learned during the past few months is that not only have I done my best as a parent, but I’ve done well in general, helping my child make decisions that will hopefully result in greater happiness and success for him.
You will walk home from first days of school with no one to reassure you that they will be ok. You will send them out on their first time away from home, watch them perform in plays, the band, sports, on their first date, taking the car for the first time, with yourself being the only cheering section. You will do this alone, with no one to witness these passages from child to adult. Sharing great joy is what makes joy so wonderful.
If you are on your own I have two pieces of advice; don’t second guess your intuition when it comes to what’s right for your kids, and don’t settle for good-enough. It’s all worth it. Every single minute that you worry and wonder, and spend alone.
Let me tell you a short story. Today was my day off. I work long hours, at a very (physically & psychologically) demanding job (which I love). Even so, I L-O-V-E my days off.
No-alarm-clock days are luxurious. After all darlings, I have mastered the art of living and relaxing. But today I set my alarm for 6 a.m. You see, my kiddo had to get up and out before 7 a.m., and I wanted to give him a drive.
Yes, he’s old enough to get there himself. Yes, he knows how to pack his own lunch, cook, clean and do his own laundry. Despite the kiddo’s protests, “Mom, why do you want to drive me? I’m fine on my own. Go back to bed“, I often get up even on the days I work a late shift.
Why? Well, as any parent will tell you, they cherish those moments with their children, and those moments come fewer and more far between as our children grow up.
The Christmas season offers many opportunities to argue, fight, and to feel annoyed with one another.
When we want to be with you to decorate the tree, have dinner with friends, and participate in family traditions, please remember that it’s not intended as a form of torture.
When we ask how your day was, we’re not so much checking up on whether you were a stand-up human being, we want to make sure you’re ok. Ok as in, we’ve been there, and we know that the world can be cruel and hard. We want to make sure you never leave for the day, or go to bed at night feeling, ‘less than’.
When we pack you a lunch, or suggest you take more food, we’re not criticizing your menu choice. We don’t want you to be hungry.
When we make sure you have a winter coat for the season, and suggest you take a hat or gloves, it’s not because we want to send you out looking like an over-grown toddler or out of style. We don’t want you to feel the cold.
When we ask you about your first crush, we don’t want to give you a moral lecture on sexual behavior. We want to know if your crush is treating your tender heart with care. We don’t want you to feel heartache.
When we ask you what you want to study or what you want to be be when you grow up, we don’t care if you have a definitive answer. We want you to go after your dreams.
We don’t want you to suffer; to feel pain, cold, hunger, loneliness or sadness.
No matter how old you are, if you are lucky, you will always be someone’s little boy or little girl. At a certain point in life, the roles reverse, and like I feel about my mumster, you’ll want to swaddle us in protective love too.
Life can be pretty crappy sometimes. It can be pretty freaking amazing too.
Having just had an absolutely amazing, rejuvenating holiday, I came back to the same house, the same job, and the same-old-same-old-everything. It was at best anti-climactic, and at worst depressing as hell.
But I knew this would happen. It always does. The reset-button on life gets hit during my holidays, and when I come back to the cold, earlier-than-jesus-wakes-up-alarm-clock, dissatisfaction and depression take up residence like Gertrude Stein hosting a salon. It’s here to stay until someone comes up with a brilliant idea which usually takes blood, sweat and tears to execute and bring into being.
Life and everything about it can either be wonderful or awful. It is a matter of perspective and practice. As pithy as it sounds, the vast majority of the time, it’s a choice. Most of the time attitude has more to do with how we perceive elements in our life; relationships, career, personal development.
The workplace seems to be a grand microcosm of our little places in the vast universe. There are always people who are positive, and people who see the glass as perpetually less than half full. I’ve always believed that the people who are positive just have a different processing mechanism, not that they are naïve to what’s going on around them. They have chosen a rose-tinted lens through which to see the world.
“Don’t mistake my kindness for stupidity”, I’ve said more than once. Even as adults in our secluded career worlds, it’s the survival-of-the-fittest mentality that often slithers beneath the politically correct surface. The idea of personal leadership is important to my work ethic, and sometimes, like when I get back from a vacation, I need to remind myself of that. I need to remind myself that I have a choice about life, and although I’m just beginning to lay the mental groundwork for some changes, I have to be in the moment here and now.
Why not smile? Life is now. As in: right now. This very moment as I type on my old keyboard, sip coffee out of one of my favourite mugs, and feel slightly guilty that my house is in disarray again. Check that – always. Life is happening right now. This one precious life.
Perhaps my dissatisfaction, depression and anxiety have all been popping in to remind me that fear is a great trickster. Anticipating change and new life-stages is scary and inspiring all at once.
Distraction is the go-to emotion when silence, and fear meet in our psyche. Stillness is difficult and painful. That’s why we often go out and buy something bright to spruce up the house, have a lusty fling, drink too much wine or lash out with negativity and sarcasm.
Stillness helps, and so do good friends who meet with us for talks that include everything from sex to manicures. It is a fine balance this wearing of rose-coloured glasses. If yours have slipped off like mine have, maybe you just need a really great friend to help you pick them up, dust them off, and put them back on your beautiful face.
I was you once – giddy with affection and unconditional love for my child.
Every moment was a miracle, and every second I could kiss, cuddle, snuggle or coo my little one, I did. Unapologetically.
I see you out there, proud as punch as you push your strollers and post your photos on social media of your naps, and first steps, and messy little-helping hands of your budding cookie bakers.
That’s right. You read that correctly. Don’t stop falling in love with your babies.
I’m the middle-aged woman you pass at the coffee shop, or in the shopping aisle who stops to tell you how beautiful your baby, toddler or young child is. I’m the woman who coos over the outfits and little faces, and even the tears. I’m one of the kazillion middle-aged women who look at you through their newly increased lens prescription and says; “Enjoy them while they’re young.”
Don’t stop being amazed at every new stage. Ever.Don’t stop wondering how they are when they head off to school, and don’t stop bothering them for a hug, or stories about their day when they become teenagers. Trust me, they will challenge you sometimes.
Whatever happens and whatever they get up to, don’t stop being the ferociously loving mother that you are.
I’ll be honest with you. When my child turned three, I was tempted to see what the return policy was. Four was better. Like a light switch being turned on, the ‘terrible three’s’ (it was three not two) turned into the fabulous four’s, and I had my angel back.
It’s true, every age and stage holds some surprise. Some stages, much like the prize your potty-training-darling hands to you while proudly shouting, “Poo-Poo” are less satisfying than others. Sometimes you will despair at how you will get through the day; emotionally, physically, financially. Sometimes, you will have nothing left to give. But that’s when us older gals come in.
We’ve been there; the smiling photo-posting-proud-as-pie times and the lonely-how-am-I-going-to-do-it-times. Pick up the phone, talk to us in line at Starbuck’s, or at the grocery store. We’ve been there sister, and lived to coach you through it.
For now, just keep doing what you do. You’re great at it, even when you’re not sure you’re doing it right, you are.
~Enjoy them while they’re little. They grow up too quickly.~
Mother’s day, next to Valentine’s Day is a quintessential ‘Hallmark Holiday’. After all, great mothers are celebrated every day through the wonderful relationships which they cultivate with their children.
Whether you are a biological, surrogate, adoptive, or fur-baby Mama, you wake up every day, and do your best to make another being feel confident, capable, loved and secure.
As a mother, I often reflect upon what being a mother has meant to me. All of a sudden, my baby has turned into a handsome, capable, thoughtful 6’3″ (and growing) young man with his own perspective and life.
I do believe that had it not been for motherhood, I would have been found dead in ditch somewhere by now, with fabulous stilettos, a designer bag, and a great tan. Ah yes…becoming a mother certainly sets a girl’s priorities straight!
Motherhood is a journey of a lifetime, often only realized and experienced in retrospect. In present moments, we are bustling to cook a meal, do homework, get to practice on time and make sure everyone has what they need for the day.
…and then they grow up. Just a little bit. A little more independent. A little more sure of what their preferences are. A little bit more their own person.
You notice when you give them a kiss good night, or when they walk in the door after having been away for a few days. Your baby isn’t a baby, or even a child any more. They have, in those rushed moments, turned into a young woman or a young man, and they are their own person.
Sometimes, even when life happens right in front of us, it’s only through recollection and nostalgia that we piece together how those tiny babies we gave life to have become the wonderful, awesome people that they are at this moment.
From all of us moms out there to all of our kiddos – Thank you for the most amazing times of our life. We love you.
….did your take your jacket?….do you have enough money?….call me if you need a ride, even if it’s at 3am…
Our table of 7 was about to start the first course of dinner hosted at a private club, when a tall, fair-haired man asked “Where’s your husband?!”.
It was very kind of this gent to be concerned about not starting to eat until everyone was seated. I like that kind of consideration. It was clear however that this man was fishing for information in a rather obtuse, ignorant way. Just as clearly as there was no Mr. ANDSHELAUGHS joining us for dinner.
Now, I could have answered in any number of ways, like; I’m not married, or He’s dead, or Which one, the good-looking one, or the rich one? Instead, in my very droll fashion I looked at him very seriously and said, “I’m sure my second husband is waiting for me at our villa in France.”, and then I started my meal without so much as a hint that I was pulling his very arrogant leg.
You see, this man expressed his disapproval for me not having a husband as if I were missing a limb or had perhaps arrived at the event sans trousers. Whatever the case, he felt that I was not a successful woman because I did not come with a partner. I, in his opinion, did not, “Have it All.” I’m sure that his wife would have gladly given him up if he weren’t loaded to the gills. I’m sure without him or his vulgar jokes his wife still would have felt content, as if she had it ‘ALL’.
So my dear readers, that brings us to the wonderful idea of a woman, “having it all’. Hmmm. All? What is all? It has come to mean a great career, a fabulous husband, over-achieving children and a list the length of your arm of material possessions. All. Poor me. I guess I don’t have it all. I love my job, but do I have a career that’s taken off like a meteorite? No. Instead I wiggled out a niche for myself in my area of expertise that allowed flexibility and a supportive working environment for a single working mother. My husband went the way of my 28″ waist many, many years ago, and my material possessions are enough to get by on and then a few extra pretty things.
An article in the July/August issue of The Atlantic with the not-so-shocking title, “Why Women Still Can’t Have it All,” was suggested to me by one of my friends (who, by the standard of the author of this article also doesn’t have it all, despite having a husband, an education, a job and two beautiful children).
The article is written by Anne Marie Slaughter, a previous U.S. State Department worker who writes about the difficulty juggling work in Washington D.C., and her family back home in Princeton, New Jersey. In the article Ms. Slaughter says that she’s writing about her own demographic, “…highly educated, well-off and privileged”. I think privileged is the key here Ms. Slaughter.
If anyone, male or female, chooses a career miles away from their family, and expects to not be bothered at work with parenting issues, not only are they privileged and well-off, they are out of touch with reality. I don’t care to hear the whining, even if it’s written in a well-reputed magazine like the Atlantic. This is a choice you have made. I don’t go around whining because I could have been a great author, wonderful CEO or world’s greatest lover BUT I chose to stay around to watch my kid grow up. Get real.
The article goes on to give a couple of sentences of thoughtfulness to poor souls like myself, ‘single mothers’,and my peers who are less concerned about having it all and more concerned about holding on to what they do have. Wait a minute here. I’m a single mother. You’re darn right I’m worried about holding on to what I do have, but maybe I have it all right here. Did you ever think of that?
Yes, statistically women are underpaid compared to men, and the majority of household responsibility falls on the woman’s shoulders, and life certainly gets tough – just ask my tissue box. But what kind of expectations are we trying to live up to? Expectations set by the rich-getting-richer and losing touch with reality, (oh my god imagine it!) like raising their own kids, owning a single home (shame!), and not getting bonuses that exceed six digits ( gasp!). I’m sorry Ms. Slaughter, but no one on this planet, highly-educated-well-off-and-priviliged as they may be, is worth that much more than anyone else.
The sad part about the perpetuated myth of women being able to have it all is that it has been spoon-fed to generations of women by other women who have been there and know it’s all bullshit. The very people who raise and mentor us from childhood to womanhood are weaving a myth like the Easter Bunny, Tooth Fairy and good old St. Nick. “ALL”, needs to be redefined, and re-programmed into the social mindset of women.
I redefined “ALL” for myself a long time ago, and recently got a great kick in the rear end to look at it again. Despite not coming from a privileged family ( I actually come from a prohibitive family when it comes to personal success and achievement, but I’m saving that for my blog about booze, hookers and therapists), I have a decent education – university and two post-graduate certifications…more to come. I also have a healthy child who not only was athlete of the year, is also an honour student and a highest achiever in some academic subjects. I have a job that is meaningful and pays the bills. Most importantly, I am healthy. I belong to a social club, a sports team, and travel once a year for holidays. That is “ALL” for me, plus some really nice extras.
I go back to the article in The Atlantic and ask myself, “Am I nuts, or are some people out there just really gullible when it comes to setting priorities?” Death of the Liberal Class by Chris Hedges does a great job of deconstructing how we’ve bought into a culture that is taking away our humanity, and even the nature of what it means to be male and female.
I am not a big sympathiser of men’s issues. They don’t give birth, they get paid more than me on average, don’t menstruate or get yeast infections. Men don’t have to wear bras, maxi-pads, or worry about nipples poking through t-shirts. They do, en masse, with very few exceptions, lack the emotional insight that females have, so I’ll call it even.
Men never talk about having it “ALL” because they don’t, and we don’t, as a society, have any expectations of men besides holding down a regular job. They certainly aren’t pressured to maintain the household income by going out to work every day, while getting children off to school, running errands, getting the groceries, do doctor’s appointments, then cook dinner, do homework and get all dolled- up in some kind of sexy-man lingerie so we can take advantage of the poor wee-man-things when we crawl into bed. I realize some men do this, but if the household goes to crap, it’s the woman who gets the hairy eyeball ninety-nine percent of the time.
Our modern, western culture has done one hell of a good job of dividing the sisterhood. Once we recognize that, we’ll be a lot better off. I love this quote from Eva Burrows, “We have to be careful in this era of radical feminism, not to emphasize an equality of the sexes that leads women to imitate men to prove their equality. To be equal does not mean you have to be the same. ”
As soon as women redefine, “ALL”, we will have it. As soon as women stop looking down their noses at one another for staying home with their kids, or not staying home with their kids, we will have it “ALL”. No woman should be uneducated, or struggle to have a roof over her head or not have care for her children.
We owe one another more support. Perhaps it might come at a small cost to ourselves, a bit of time, a few dollars, but it will result in amazing success when it comes to raising children with integrity, wisdom, and a sense of social welfare. If everyone grabs hold and tries to balance the boat, just think about what a happy little trek down the river of life we would have. Perhaps even some more hoochie-coochie ladies and gents.
Just in case you’re wondering, I really don’t care about your judgement, and I really could care less about sharing my table at a social function with a Neanderthal of a man who thinks I’m not whole because my husband isn’t by my side. I will marry a man when being with him makes me a better mother. I will work at a job that allows me to truly support my family, not just financially. I don’t care that I traded some career success to be around when my kid has had a fever, or a special event at school.
At the end of the day, my “All” is that I lived with integrity (and a good share of mischief). I do have it “ALL”, and I’m not buying any more of what “THEY” think I should have.