Stumbling

This school year I was (am) determined to stay on top of things. Last year, we got off to a rocky start compounded by an ill-timed vacation from which I feel like we never fully recovered. We also switched up the routine last year by not having a babysitter for after school care and instead the boys attended the YMCA sponsored program. While the Y has been great to us, the after care situation didn’t work for a number of reasons and I felt like I just didn’t have enough control over things.

One of the hardest things about being a working parent is dealing with child care. Finding the right person or daycare or program to take care of your child while you are working is ridiculously stressful. I had been super lucky in the past with having sitters I could trust, but after a few missteps in that direction, using the Y after care seemed like the best alternative. However, it just didn’t work out the way I needed it to. As the boys get older, I need someone who can be there to supervise homework and get them to all of their activities and feed them the food I want them fed, and basically do all the things that I want to be able to do.

So, I’ve found a great sitter and have been trying to establish and maintain a routine in hopes that we can all have a relatively peaceful and productive school year.

It’s been about four weeks and I’m already reaching for the Xanax.

Things aren’t going badly, per se, but I’m reminded almost daily that what I really want to be able to do is just be there for my children when they get home from school. I want to be in control. I want to set the routine. I want to be present. But, alas, I have to bring home the bacon.

Surely, there is a way I can do both. I just need to figure it out.

My anxiety comes from my fear that by the time I will figure it out they will be grown and I won’t have been able to do everything I wanted to do for them. I suppose part of it is having a fantasy that were I fully present during my time with them, my time wouldn’t only be spent as a nagging, stressed out mom who is preoccupied with feeding them, making sure homework is done, making sure her own work is done, making sure their teeth are brushed and their bodies are clean and they aren’t spending too much time in front of a screen and that my role in the house would be more than a glorified housekeeper/landlord.

I want my kids to look forward to their time with me instead of dreading it. I want to enjoy our time together instead of it being a checklist of everything that must get done before bedtime is strictly enforced. In theory, I have a pretty good work-life balance. But in reality, the “life” part isn’t balanced at all. And “me” time–the me-mom balance–is pretty much non-existent.

It’s not that I don’t enjoy working. I have friends who are stay-at-home moms who remind me how good I have it to engage in critical thinking and adult conversations pretty much daily. I’m lucky in that way. I am also lucky I have a job I like for an organization I believe in. Who am I to complain?

But if I could redesign my life, I’d do it a little differently.

And I hear myself telling my boys that they can do or be anything or anyone they want to be. And I feel the urgency as I tell them to work hard now so their opportunities aren’t limited. And I push them and push them because I feel like they need to START NOW and make it happen because I was once so full of potential which I squandered and I find now I am trying to gather the seeds I so recklessly scattered and plant a fertile garden, but it is so hard and it would have been so much easier if I had begun sooner, if I hadn’t gone off course, if I had just realized the future can be affected by the actions we take even when we are at the tender age of ten.

Then I laugh at myself.

If I had done everything that I was expected to do, if I had never wandered down that less traveled path, if I had worked up to the potential my teachers saw in me and never deviated, never daydreamed, never chosen socializing over work, never explored, I would never have even discovered who I am and what I am here to do.

I would probably be no better off than I am now. In fact, I might be living a soul-crushing life of drudgery and living up to other’s expectations.  I might have been a vet, though. Or making a living at being a writer. Or married and a stay-at-home mom. Or a psychologist. There were a lot of other paths I could have chosen. But I didn’t.

I’ll never know.

As parents, we want our kids to be happy. We want our kids to find their lane and what they are good at and what makes them feel alive. We want them to live up to their potential. The trick is letting them discover for themselves. My instinct is to be the Tiger mom. To push and push and know what is best and have them thank me for it later. But that is the EXACT opposite of the path I chose as a child. I had a lot of freedom. My parents pushed me, but not hard. They let me fail. They let me figure it out. They let me.

It’s hard not to be in control.

So, as the new school year unfolds, I struggle to push myself beyond the limitations I have wrought upon myself and to ensure my children don’t follow the same shaky path. Do as I say, not as I’ve done.

And of course, among my many thoughts on how I could be a better parent, I am reminded that if there were another parent to shoulder the load, if I had a partner that was helping to fill in the gaps, if only I could share all of the responsibility of making sure these boys both enjoyed being kids AND reached their potential of being successful and happy beyond their wildest dreams…maybe, just maybe, I wouldn’t be such a giant ball of stress and nerves all the time.

It’s single parent’s curse, I guess. Maybe I feel the need to push because I want them to prove the statistics wrong. I want them to be the über successful kids of a single mom. I want to make sure that no one will ever say, “Well, it’s no wonder…they were raised by a single mom”.

Part of me knows this is ridiculous.

The other part yelled at them because homework wasn’t done to the best of their ability.

It’s going to be a long year while I figure it all out.

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One-Liner Wednesday– On appropriate footwear for the journey ahead

I think I may need more than flip-flops!


This blessing is brought to you by Linda G Hill’s One-Liner Wednesday and my 365 things to love about being Irish calendar. Join in!

Why Mother’s Day is complicated

Since motherhood takes up a lot of space in my head, it seemed right to re-enter into my blogging for Mother’s Day. As all the thoughts about moms and Mother’s Day and parenting and expectations swirled around in my head while trying to decide how to approach the topic on my blog, I realized how complex my feelings were about Mother’s Day and then quickly followed up that realization with the thought of “Duh! Of course your feelings about the day are complicated, look at your feelings about motherhood!”

On my drive home from work tonight, knowing I would finally sit down and write this post, I tried to conjure up the words in my head as I often do. I started thinking about my niece telling me the other day how she wanted to have six children, 3 of each gender, and me telling her that when I was young I wanted to have eight children. I’ll let that sink in for a second. Eight. Five boys and three girls. At some point, with a boyfriend too young to be making such plans, we named these eight future children. Looking back on that I can only shake my head at young, foolish me.

I remember thinking a big family would be so ideal. There would be this fantastic sibling bond and everyone would look out for each other and my husband and I would be the perfect parents and we would have big, loud, happy family dinners and it would be like the Brady Bunch. Plus two.

As I got older and began to understand myself and the world a little better, I accepted that a big family was probably not in the cards for me. I still hoped for the fairytale romance and figured once I had satisfied my wanderlust and my big dreams that the family part would fall into place. But each failed romance took me further from my ideal until I began to believe I was maybe just too selfish to have a baby (or eight).

Cue the song on the radio as I get off the exit toward home this evening: “You can’t always get what you want, but if you try sometimes, you might find, you get what you need…”

That about sums it up for me. Motherhood hasn’t turned out to be at all what I wanted. Or rather, this version of motherhood isn’t at all what I envisioned. I am not the mom I dreamed of being. My pregnancy was not the joyous event  I longed to have. My family doesn’t come close to the idealized fantasy I had as a young girl.

But maybe this life is what I really needed.

Maybe having two needy babies consuming me (almost literally) from the beginning was what I needed to become a less selfish person.

Maybe doing it all on my own was what I needed to believe in my own strength.

Maybe the difficulties and the loneliness are what I needed to have more compassion and understanding for my own mother.

Maybe.

My first Mother’s Day occurred when I was pregnant. One of my best friends had sent me a gift; it was a prayer necklace that had a tiny container in which you could write down a little prayer and put it in the silver tube and keep it close to your heart. It was so lovely, but I remember thinking, “I’m not a Mother, yet”.

Even at that time, pretty big with twin boys in my belly, I didn’t truly feel like a mother. I didn’t understand what being a mother was. I can remember sometimes just wanting the babies to come out. I felt like I could truly be a mother if I could hold them in my arms and know that I was taking care of them. Meanwhile, the best thing that could happen was that I didn’t hold them in my arms, but in my womb. That I stay pregnant as long as possible. Luckily, God made sure that my fever dreams and wishes and prayers went unanswered…

I think the prayer I wrote down was that I would be a good mother and that the boys’ father would come around and be a good father to them. I pried the necklace open tonight to see if that is what I was thinking nine years ago, like my faulty memory believes, but the prayer was just pale blue ink spread on yellow aged paper. I wore that necklace every day and didn’t take it off until the day I had my boys. I then wore it for years after until I think I realized that at least part of my prayer had been answered.

I am a good mother.

I am not the mother that I thought I would be. I am not the mother that I wanted to be. But I am a good mother.

The next Mother’s Day of which I have a clear recollection was maybe when the boys were three. We went to my sister’s house for a while and took some pictures underneath her lilac tree. After some breakfast and visiting, I went home and broke down sobbing at the kitchen sink while doing dishes.

I was grieving for the loss of an unattainable ideal. For the Hallmark commercial of a dad and his kids making mommy breakfast in bed and telling her how much she was loved. That would never be my reality. I was grieving that I couldn’t have one day off from the thankless job of keeping a house running and keeping my children healthy and fed and giving up my own desires to do so. And I was lamenting that on MOTHER’S day, the only thing I really wanted in that moment–was a break from being a mother.

When I think back on it now, I feel a little sick.

There are women out there who would trade their souls to hold a baby in their arms and be a mother.

There are women who have lost their babies, their children, and their adult children, who would give anything for one more day.

There are women who had to say to goodbye to their own mothers too soon.

How could I possibly wish away the most incredible gift that I had ever been given?

Of course, I didn’t really wish it away. That would be like wishing to stop breathing. I just wanted a break. I wanted someone to see me. To see that I was trying to be a good mom. I wanted a fairy godmother to swoop in and take care of my chores and my stress and give me beautiful comfy pajamas and a haircut and a massage and let me snuggle up with my babies for an afternoon of naps and movies.

A fairy godMOTHER.

So many ways to be a mother.

Ironically, some of my very best friends are not mothers. Some want to be. Some don’t. Some don’t say if it is truly something they yearn for deep down, but feel or fear they can’t have. Some of these women are the most giving, selfless, amazing, MOTHERING, people I know. I want to celebrate them this Mother’s Day for all the ways that they are mothers without having or adopting children of their own. They are the fairy godmothers of the world.

In my heart, every Mother’s Day, I hold those women who have lost their children. It is something that I cannot imagine. I hold those women who have lost their mother. I hold those women who grieve for the mother they wish they had growing up or as an adult. I hold those people for whom this holiday is nothing but a reminder that they don’t have someone to call Mom.

I truly am blessed to be a mom. It is nothing like I imagined it would be. I don’t deserve it. But I work hard to become deserving of it.  I hope my sons one day realize how they changed my entire definition of an ideal family. And that they know if I achieve nothing in this whole world other than making them feel loved and giving them the tools to create that ideal life for themselves, I will have succeeded.

Happy Mother’s Day to all you women out there who are mothers in body, in heart, and in spirit.

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Flashback

This time 9 years ago I was lying in a hospital bed crying. Everything was too much. I had spent 60 days lying around medicated to keep my preterm labor at bay and the doctors had agreed to take me off the medication at 35 weeks and let nature take its course. When nothing transpired after a few hours, the doctors joked that maybe the babies had gotten comfortable and would stay the 40 weeks after all. Hahahahahaha…no.

I was enormous and miserable. My back hurt, my legs and feet were swollen, and the thought of eating made me sick. I just wanted to give birth. But as with the 9 weeks before, I also didn’t want to give birth and have there be complications with the babies. I was between the proverbial rock and the hard place. I received an email from the boys’ father informing me that he wouldn’t be participating in our lives any longer. Not that he had been the doting father-to-be up until that moment, but there had been brief periods of hope on my part that it may all work out the way I thought I wanted it to: two happy, loving parents and two happy, healthy baby boys.

But that night my future was so uncertain, my emotions so erratic, that I couldn’t see how it would all be OK. My happily ever after seemed so very far away.

The prior few weeks my San Diego friends (read: ANGELS) had been working hard to assure a happily ever after scenario for the boys and me. They cleaned and organized my house. They set up the nursery. They fed my cats. They took care of my mail. They brought me meatballs (I was a vegetarian, but hey, the babies wanted what they wanted!) They brought me toothpaste, books, movies, funny stories, company, “happy hour”, music, and burritos. They did my laundry and my errands. They took care of my car; installed the baby seats, got an oil change, and a tune-up. My friends and family from further away kept me supplied with magazines and movies and emails and phone calls and prayers and well wishes.

Don’t cry, the one night nurse told me, then your babies will be sad and cry all the time too. Awesome. I was fucking up my kids while they were still in the womb. Great job, mommy. I couldn’t manage to keep them in my body properly. I couldn’t manage my roller coaster of emotions, from the moment I found out I was pregnant to all the ups and downs of my ridiculously unstable relationship. The doctors warned me constantly that I was at risk to give birth at any time and that the boys would likely have lifelong health problems if that happened. I needed to be grateful that they were still inside my body baking (and I was!) But I was also terrified. And miserable. And excited. And depressed. And oh-so-gigantic. I couldn’t really move without pain. But I was lucky. And I knew I was lucky. But sometimes, like this night 9 years ago, it was hard not to lose sight of all that grace and just feel the “whys”. Why can’t this be a little easier? Why did I bring this all on myself? Why does it have to suck so badly? Why can’t I just have it go my way?

I don’t remember if I cried myself to sleep. I do remember that I stayed up until my last monitoring which had to be just before midnight. Sometimes I would try to sleep before the nurse would come in and barely acknowledge the routine of trying to find the heartbeats and strapping the contraction monitor on me. I think I was hoping for some sign that the last 9 weeks of being in the hospital on medication had been necessary. That the boys would have come and it would have been disastrous. That now the medication was out of my system, my body was free to do what it had been trying to do all along…get those babies born.

But the night nurse cheerfully told me all was quiet. And repeated the doctor’s joke about them happily staying put for the next 5 weeks. Wasn’t I lucky? Yup. Super lucky. Miserable and fat and in pain, but very blessed thank you very much. Now get out.

Somewhere in the wee hours of the morning I had to get myself out of bed and waddle to the bathroom. This was no easy feat. I had to rock myself back and forth a little to get the leverage to sit up. Ridiculous. Anyway, I remember going to the bathroom thinking how lousy I felt. Wondering how I would make it through another day. Thinking now I had to deal with a stomachache and cramps on top of everything else. Terrific! I waddled my sick body back to bed and hoped that there was still an hour or more I could try to sleep before the morning nurse came in. I dozed, but didn’t sleep and I didn’t feel great. At no point did it occur to me I had started going into labor. After all that waiting and wishing, you’d think I would have clued in. But no. It was only when the morning nurse came in to monitor me that it became clear: the contractions had begun and the babies were coming.

I was thrilled and scared, but so very ready. I made sure they called my doctor right away. She had said she didn’t want me to labor too long because they had already determined I needed to have a C-section and they didn’t want to risk either of the babies getting into distress and causing an unnecessary emergency after all the caution we had exercised over the previous two months. I remember speaking to the doctor on the phone and hearing the most delightful words I had ever heard: “Today is a good day to be born”. And then the wait began.

After 9 weeks, you wouldn’t think 8 hours would seem so long. But it did. I called my mom and sister and dad. I talked to my local friends who were on standby. Two of my angels agreed to come and be in the delivery room with me. One of them called the father and let him know he was about to miss out on the most important day of his life. He agreed to come. He agreed to come and stay. To once again attempt to put it all behind us and really be a part of this. It was happening. One of my favorite nurses was on hand in the afternoon to help me get prepped for surgery. She was none too happy to hear that “papa” would be around, but told me to focus on nothing but the babies. I followed her advice. Nothing else mattered.

Once we were in the OR, I was happy I had asked a friend of mine to print out my Will. Suddenly, I had this horrible feeling like I had served my purpose. I had done a terrible job being pregnant, but now the babies were finally coming, and I might not make it through the ordeal. I had already had a horrible reaction to the medication they had first used to stop my preterm labor and in general, I do not do well with anesthesia and drugs. After they had given me the spinal, I had this pain in my neck and I was hot and cold and nauseous and could feel pretty much everything and was convinced something was about to go terribly wrong.

I tried not to panic. They gave me more drugs and I became completely numb. He who shall not be named was in the OR with me. He had shown up after all and I was grateful for a hand to clutch. The actual surgery was a little surreal. I could hear the doctors chatting. I could feel the pushing and pulling on my belly. I kept asking if they were coming and what could he see. Finally, I heard something: a faint cry and the doctor held G up for me to see and then whisked him away. And then seemingly an instant later, C was held up for me to look at and taken away just as quickly.

By that time, I was sobbing. With joy, relief, and a million other emotions I couldn’t name then or now. I kept asking, are they OK? Where are they? Can I see them? It seemed like an eternity before they brought them over to me, but I was so drugged up I couldn’t hold them. I had to wait. They eventually wheeled me into the recovery room where at least most of my upper body movement returned. And then the sweetest moment of my whole life.

holding my babies for the first time

holding my babies for the first time

This was just the beginning of our story. And every year from July 12 (the day I was hospitalized) through their birthday I start thinking about how differently our story could have ended. How there are so many people who made sure we survived. I wrote something on Facebook a few years ago which really sums it up and acknowledges those angels who made it happen. And since then, we have continued to attract amazing and wonderful friends into our lives. The boys are surrounded by good friends with good families who are always willing to help us out. Our family continues to be the rock to which we cling for safety and security, without whom, we could not be where we are today.

9 years ago tonight, I felt so desperate and sad and just wished I knew it would all turn out OK. I now wish that scared, lonely mama-to-be could have caught a glimpse of her amazing future.

Here’s an excerpt from the note in 2011:

But luckily, God had a plan. It was a very intricate plan and one I still don’t fully understand the meaning behind, but a few things I know. God gave me twin boys so that G and C would ALWAYS have each other no matter what. They would never have to be alone. And God made sure that I was surrounded by angels so that I would be able to get through those first few days, weeks, months and learn that I could do it on my own…with a little help from my friends (and family).

I try to thank these angels personally at least once a year to let them know I haven’t forgotten. It has been on my mind a lot lately. And for these and so many other things I want to thank:

Danielle Tannourji & Bo Diklich for taking me in and giving me a home until I had my babies, being there when they were born, and helping me out every chance you got after they arrived.

Gina Frazier, Laura Whelan, Kim Berry for keeping me company in the hospital, washing untold amounts of baby clothes, bringing me burritos and having game nights while the babies were sleeping and in general, relaxing the “no babies club” rules.

Dustin Schueneman for being the “fairy buddha father”, cooking us meals, and for showing up that very first night and bringing me pizza and watching the boys so i could take a shower, for sleeping over when they first got their shots and I was worried that they’d get sick.

Katie & Gary Grisko for helping to prepare my house and car so that I could bring my precious cargo home, for keeping my spirits up, for not thinking i was too crazy and printing out the will at the last minute and for the very important job of actually BRINGING US HOME!!!(along with Tami Reano who provided extra support)

Blair & Rob Mitchell who were also part of the “preparation” crew and Blair who literally swooped in and organized my life the next day when I thought I might drop from exhaustion, letting me sleep and waking up to a clean house, groceries ordered, happy babies and positive outlook.

Joel Williams for his help with the house and making sure I always had a smile on my face and making my return to work that much easier.

Joe Ueno for showing up that first day and getting me my medicine that I so desperately needed.

Jerry Garrett & Eric Zeiner for taking care of my OTHER babies while I was in the hospital.

Ace Pemble,Toutu & Ken Gold, Uschi & Jeremy Morris, Heather Domenico, Bonita Patterson, Vanessa & Michael Spencer, and Jenny & David Brumley for providing so much support both while I was in the hospital and in the months to follow, allowing me to get my strength back and to know that I had such amazing people on my side.

David Sarlo, my most loving cousin and amazing Uncle David to the boys, for too many moments to count.

Obviously, there are so many more people to thank in the roles that they’ve played in the boys’ lives and in mine. My family and friends who lived outside of San Diego have provided so much moral support and visits and advice and love. But the angels in San Diego that God sent to me deserve this special shout out tonight, six years later, because I truly couldn’t have done it without you. It really does take a village. And I am stronger for it and a better mom for it and I believe that as I’ve faced these years as a “single” parent one of the important things I’ve learned is that none of us is ever truly alone if you’ve got a friend and sometimes just knowing that is enough to get you through anything!

5 parenting challenges I considered writing about this week

Everyone loves lists and it is a blogger’s favorite trick, so here we go:

Top 5 parenting challenges that I thought about writing for this week’s post:

1. Popular music and where to draw the line

I love music. I remember being maybe 9 or 10 and holding my tape recorder up to the radio so that I could record my favorite songs from the Top 40. I loved to listen and sing along: Duran Duran’s Hungry Like the Wolf, Billy Idol’s White Wedding, Madonna’s Like a Virgin…I didn’t understand what I was really singing about. Frankly, it was adults’ reactions to Madonna that tipped me off that something was up. My first record was Huey Lewis & the News, “Sports” which I won off a boardwalk game down the shore. I am sure my mother was thrilled as I went around singing “I want a new drug, one that won’t make me sick…” But now the shoe is on the other foot. It is disconcerting to hear my sons’ sing Ke$ha’s, Tick Tock “…brush my teeth with a bottle of Jack…” not only because of the content, but also because there isn’t a snowball’s chance in hell that I would ever choose to listen to Ke$ha, so I have no idea where they get that. Hypocritically, I was more than happy to let them listen to Tom Petty’s Listen to Her Heart “You think you’re going to take her away, with your money and your cocaine”. I tried to sing loudly over the word “cocaine” and convince them that it was “croquet”. Of course, this didn’t work and they repeated it to their younger cousins. Whoops. And now with songs that have explicit lyrics available via Spotify and Pandora, I can’t be sure that they aren’t getting exposed to things that they shouldn’t. I wouldn’t ever want to make music “bad”, but I don’t really want to hear my 8-year olds singing about drugs or sex. It’s a pickle.

2. Dating as a single mom

This is a topic that fascinates people. I have been asked very many times: How do you meet people? What is it like? How do you handle things with the kids? Answer: I haven’t the foggiest idea. I once remarked to someone that I finally understood why traditionally people have felt it is so important to get married before having children: because meeting someone and dating while you have kids is a bit of a nightmare. To be fair, I wouldn’t say that I was ever very good at “dating” before I had kids either. I’m definitely what they call a serial monogamist. Dating is a foreign concept for me. And since I am so protective of my sons, I will not let just any old someone into our lives. Only the most amazing, trustworthy, kindest soul who won’t let us down and will love us all completely will do. And they have to make us laugh. And be able to stick by us through the busy ups and downs of our lives, all while putting up with our idiosyncrasies. So…I think I would make a good nun.

3. The woman that got fined for not having grains in her kid’s lunch 

This isn’t exactly a parenting challenge, but it kind of is, right? I mean, we all struggle with lunch. We do what we can to make sure our kiddoes get good nutrition and eat what we want them to eat. But this lady sent her child off to school with a healthy lunch and she got fined AND the school supplemented her kid’s lunch with Ritz Crackers, as if that was what made it all OK. Now it is nutritious because we added the crackers, see? Essentially, there is a government “guideline” for schools which states that a healthy lunch must have a milk, a meat, a grain, and two fruits and vegetables. And parents get fined if they don’t follow it. This was in Canada, but I can very quickly see this happening in the U.S. (Large soda, anyone?) I understand that the government wants to protect us from ourselves and keep us healthy. I understand that there is a problem with obesity and malnutrition. But I don’t think Ritz Crackers are the answer. In fact, I am trying to figure out a way to eliminate grains and processed foods from our diet because I suspect we are all being slowly poisoned by the food we eat. The government needs to stay out of it. By the way, I used to love Ritz Crackers and they are pretty much C’s favorite food, so, no disrespect to Ritz, but I wouldn’t suggest they are the key to a nutritious, balanced meal either.

4. Real and perceived judgments about single moms

C wanted to wear a dirty shirt to school the other day. For obvious reasons, I wanted him to change. He has been incredibly stubborn and difficult and I knew it was going to be a battle, but I was ready to put my foot down. However, I was surprised to hear the reason why as it came out of my mouth, “You have a mother who has a job and puts a roof over your head and provides for you. You are not going to go to school in dirty clothes looking like a street urchin whose parents don’t care”. Street urchin? Really? I’m worried that people will think I am not a good mom because he is wearing a dirty shirt? Or that it will show single moms don’t care about their kids? Where is this all coming from?  There seems to be an awful lot of judgment out there regarding parenting as a whole. Everyone is very concerned about what everyone else is doing and why and offering their opinions (judgments) on why it is good, bad, or whatever. I have my opinions, but I generally try to keep them along the lines of “this worked for me, so I like it” or “I don’t think that would work for me, so I reject it”. I have cared about other people’s opinions of me for far too long. And just when I thought I had shed that skin for good, I became a mom. A single mom, to boot.  Suddenly, everywhere I looked it seemed someone else was passing judgment about someone’s parenting idea or single moms on welfare being a drain on society. Now I seem to be taking all these judgments and internalizing them. As if I have to be an EXTRA good mom, so that people don’t dismiss my children because they are being raised by a single mom. Is this a single mom’s curse? Or just my own neuroses?

5. Our normal life

My oldest and dearest friend and I were probably 10 or 11 when we were driving to Great Adventure with her parents. It was a long drive so we amused ourselves by waving to people and trying to get them to wave back. We put signs in the window that said, “Why be normal? We’re not!” We thought this was hysterical. And so true–who wants to be normal anyway? Boring. Other people clearly approved of our message because we got quite a few honks and thumbs up. But a few nights ago, I had to hear my son say, “I just want to be normal” because he wants our family to “be like everyone else’s”. Meaning, with a dad; something that I just haven’t been able to manage to give him and maybe never will. I tried to explain that there is no such thing as “normal” and that everyone is different and unique and sameness is boring. However, I realize that for an 8-year old boy fitting in and being the same as everyone else is probably the most important thing in the world. No matter what I do or how I try to make up for it, I will never be a dad and we will never be “normal”. I just pray that I figure out a way to show the boys that our “normal” is just as good as anyone else’s.

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