Anybody Want to be Tagged In?

100_3082There are days I want to TAG somebody else IN.

Like in wrestling, when one person gets tired, they tag their partner in to keep going. Then hop out of the ring, rest, and regroup.

I want to hop out of the ring from time to time.

But as a single parent, that really isn’t an option. Some days are hard. Wearing.

There is no balance.

There are days when my house is clean, laundry is caught up, groceries are shopped for and dinner is on the table on time.  From the outside, the lawn is mowed and the yard looks pretty. The bills are paid, budget organized.

There are days when I’m an excellent parent. When I have meaningful conversations with the children about their future goals, college plans, and their dreams. Where I read and perhaps help edit an assignment. When I’m everything a parent should be.

There are days when I’m a super working woman. When I have a great meeting, am part of putting together a spectacular event, or of submitting an exceptional grant proposal. Where I feel I’ve accomplished something in my role as Communications Director for a local nonprofit. Or when I’ve gained a new skill, or landed a freelance project.

But…

None of those days happen together. 

Many years ago, I expected to succeed in all areas of my life. On a daily basis. (Hah!)

I have no such illusions seven years into being a single parent.

When my house is organized and looking great, I’m barely hanging on with the kids. When I’m having a stellar work day, attending an evening meeting or banging out a ten-hour day, I’m returning home to chaos. Dinner will NOT be on the table, my son will have long since run out for takeout or fast food. I won’t have the juice to edit a paper, or string together a sentence. Forget about meaningful conversations.

As a married woman, I could to TAG somebody else IN. These days, there is an ex husband living about 30 minutes away in a nearby suburb. In theory, this might offer a break. But it rarely works out that way.

Kids tend to lean on one parent after a divorce. Being that I’m the Mom, and I was a homemaker for almost 15 years, my kids are used to coming to me when they need something, when they are sick, but also to celebrate the good stuff. The dynamic was set many years ago, long before the divorce, when the children were young.

They’re used to having me provide them a home, a soft place to land. And I love doing it. It’s a big part of who I am. Over the years,  I’ve logged many shining moments of parenting excellence.

Then there are the other times…

katie mom gradDarling Daughter and her very long-term boyfriend broke up a couple of weeks into summer, just after her freshman year of college. She and the young man began dating during eighth grade, dated for almost six years.  Though Daughter felt it was the right decision for both, she was devastated. Would quietly go up to her bedroom to sob in private.  The timing was terrible for me. I was beyond busy at work, the house was falling apart.

I would love to say I was supportive, loving, all that a mother should be.

That would be a lie.

Three days into her routine, I’d had enough. I marched upstairs, busted into her bedroom and told her crying was fine, but could she please “cry and move the laundry, vacuüm and cry, empty the dishwasher and cry? Could it be a productive crying?”

I’ll never live that down.

A good mother would have hugged her, comforted her, baked her some cookies, made her a cup of tea, listened patiently, asked her if she needed anything, or taken her to lunch. Anything would have been better than my handling of the situation.

“Three days. That’s all I got,” Darling Daughter still says, “I stopped the crying. I was terrified Mom was going to come slamming into my bedroom, yelling again.”

My children are two of the greatest joys of my life. And yet, there are times it would be great to TAG somebody else IN. Anybody would be more effective than me, sometimes.

I’ve learned that I’m not usually spectacular in every area of my life. There are glimmers in different areas, on different days. But I cannot do it all, every single day.

The best I can hope for is that someday, there will be a partner; somebody to TAG IN when I’m spent.  Who might show up with dinner, take the car for an oil change, and have meaningful conversation with the children when they’re tired of what I have to say.

Until then, I suppose I’ll muddle through…

My Life by the Numbers

I rarely posted to my blog in 2013. Sort of wimped out–I never stopped writing my thoughts, just stopped posting themnumbers.

Why?

There was too much upheaval, change and transition…

By the numbers:

ONE child graduated from high school and packed off to college. Big milestones for both parents, children and family. There’s final games, final concerts, the college decision, graduation festivities, parties and finally shopping/packing for college.

ONE child finished his freshman year in high school and started his sophomore year. He adapted to being the only child at home.  Also eventful, this child played three sports, earned a varsity letter as a freshmen starter in football and was a state qualifier in pole vault. He got his driver’s license in June, 2013. Exciting stuff!

TWO houses. We started 2013 in the white ranch house that I rented just after filing for divorce in 2009. Me moved to The School House in the summer of 2013. The move was traumatic because the kids and I created many happy memories in the white ranch house. Plus moving is a whole lot of work!! But it was time to move on. And The School House has already begun to have its own memories.

THREE jobs. Sigh. ..yes, I was employed by three different companies last year. I begun 2013 a marketing manager, then wrote obits for our local newspaper and finally landed my current position. Job change is stressful. It means new people, new routines, new computer systems, processes and going back to the beginning in some ways.

FOUR dogs. We had two dogs; Grace the mutt and Rocky the golden retriever. With the move came two more dogs. The School House’s owners are out of the country on a work assignment, so we kept their dogs. We now have a long-haired dappled dachshund and a tiny sprite named Lola.

ZERO marriages. I remain a single parent. (I haven’t remarried.) Which means its all on me to maintain a home, raise the children, mow the yard, pay the bills, etc.

ZERO vacations. I could really, really use a few days off work. The kids and I are looking forward to that happening in July, 2014. We’ll spend a week in Hilton Head, S.C.

I’D RATHER NOT COUNT trips made back and forth to daughters college, how few walks I took during the fall and winter, pounds gained from stress and lack of exercise,  time spent packing and unpacking and the number of dog hairs vacuumed.

The constant chaos kept me too busy to put my thoughts out there. Often, I had no idea what (if anything) I was thinking!

However, I miss posting to this blog, miss connecting with others—because I’ve formed some wonderful friendships through writing this blog. I plan to post regularly again.  

And I’m changing it up for 2014. After five years as a single parent, I’m ready to tackle issues I’ve steered away from in the past. Playing with Perfect  has always been light, relaxed, playful and positive. It still will be, because that’s my nature—who I am.

But I’ll also be writing about deeper issues that I’ve gotten increasingly passionate about in the past five years.

Examples:

  • The realities of divorce, single parenting, its impact on children and families.
  • The working poor, the difficulties of going from homemaker into the workplace, the shortage of jobs and the challenges of establishing a job/career that can support a family.
  • Medical insurance, navigating Marketplace and Healthcare.gov and other options for getting health insurance. It’s common for employers to use part-time staff and not offer insurance. I’ll soon be without health insurance and I’ve been weighing my options.

Millions are dealing with similar challenges; it isn’t just me. I’ve noticed that many people don’t speak of them, are embarrassed, plagued by fear and/or a profound sense of failure at how off track their lives have gotten. And yet, talking about it eases the burden.

My writing style is my writing style. I tend to tackle the heavy stuff with humor. And please (continue to) excuse my incomplete thoughts, occasional grammatical errors and other imperfections. I’d love to be more Perfect–but in reality, that isn’t going to happen!

For now, I’m going to post at the beginning of each week.

I’d like to post more–but will begin with a manageable goal.

Welcome 2014!!