Choosing Your Battles

For weeks, literally, I have been engaged in this ongoing battle on another web community to which I belong; I have been expending a lot of mental and emotional energy in an attempt to be both heard and understood, and have been up nights wondering just how I could make one group of people in particular stop and see the damage they have been doing…when finaly, a couple of days ago, I just decided that it wasn’t worth it anymore and chose to remove myself from the community.

Am I a baby, as one woman said? Apparently so; I guess it makes me a baby to have my single-parenthood thrown in my face every time I make a reference to it. I guess I am a baby for telling this bitch that I don’t want to hear her goddamned Scriptures every time I turn around. I guess I am a baby for believing that Gods to look like whomever you WANT Him to llok like, and for believing that with or without “religion,” we are all kind of supposed to be nice to once another and care for each other.

I guess I am too idealistic, and will fight on principle; I think, though, that I am going to have to accept that it is true that one person can’t change anything, and that we are all in it alone. I have decided that I am no longer even going to attempt to be a voice for anyone but myself, I am no longer going to try to defend other single mothers, nor am I going to try to open anyone else’s minds. Me leaving that particular community was the best thing I could have done-if only because I shoul rmember that there really is no such thing.

We had an earthquake this morning; rather, a neighboring state had the earthquake, we had a very noticeable aftershock. It was actually quite funny; Steve and I were both standing in the kitchen and felt the first light movement and in unison yelled, “Sam, stop jumping around in there!” It wasn’t Sam jumping, which was quickly obvious. Owen was already dancing around and stumbled and fell (laughing all the the while), and the dishwasher was moving; I actually felt like I had the beginnings of an inner ear infection for a minute, it was that hard. My Sam, who for years has been insisting that if he stands really still and closes his eyes, he can feel the earth move (as in rotate), came marching into the kitchen with a look of disgust, crying out, “I TOLD you that I can feel the earth move!” He is such a Drama King that it struck us all as hilarious, at which point he turned around and left the room in a huff.

That was pretty much the excitement for the day; there have been a lot of odd things going on the past ocuple of days, though, and I am not sure what is going on or why I feel the way I do. It started with a book, which led to a petition to the Universe about something that is really, really important to me, which has in turn led to a feeling of peace deep inside me. Believe me, this is so not a normal feeling for me; I am pretty close to The Big Guy, we have running conversations all of the time, but in a general sense I like to feel like I can, perhaps, do a better job. Because, you know, He is awfully busy, with more important problems than mine, and since I know what is best for me, maybe I should just take some of it back; you know, to help Him out a little. And of course THAT always works out well for me, right? But this book(Eat, Pray, Love) had once really great part about sending a petition out to the Universe and having (mentally) people sign it; so I did that, and a ton of people put their John Hancock on it, and ever since then, well, I have felt peace.

Feeling comfortable with today is a constant struggle for me; like my friend April said in her post today, I also spend a lot of time waiting for the other shoe to drop. I don’t know why I am not doing that now, and I also know that if I question it to much, I will surely mind-fuck myself right back into feeling like maybe I can run my life better than He can. And again, that has worked out SO well for me in the past, right? I went home for lunch, though, and the sun is warm for the first time in months, I had some really great soup and bread to eat, and I am really feeling quite content with life. For this day, for this moment, I can actually say that I am happy.

Scrubbing Floors? NOT!

It was a three-day-weekend for me, so I really thought I would have more time to get things accomplished; I have been reading all of these great books, watching some really great movies, and have been walking around feeling full of inspiration and oh-so-motivated…but it is now Tuesday morning, I am back at work, and suddenly I realized that I am not, in fact, GI Jane, nor am I like the woman in Eat, Pray, Love who gets to travel the world after her divorce, finds healing and love by eating a ton of pasta in Italy, going to an Ashram in India, etc…I do this a lot; I read these really great things by some fabulous women writers, or watch a powerful movie about a woman basically proving that she has balls as big as any man. And then I get to feeling like I can run marathons and be the wisest, strongest woman I know…

But then I remember this: I really, really don’t like to exercise. So for me to look at Demi Moore with her sexy shaved head doing one-armed pushups and think, “Hey, with a little bit of work, I could do that,” well, let’s just say that isn’t going to happen. I can do two two-armed girl pushups before needing to plop on the couch with a cream puff to rest. Also, let’s be frank; I have no desire to find solitude and God in an Ashram in India, I really don’t. Anyone who has ever seen my house knows that, okay, scrubbing the Temple floors is just not going to work for me. And if it takes that kind of work to receive Divine Inspiration, well, I guess I don’t want it that bad.

There is no denying, however, that I am at a cross-roads in my life right now; I am already on pretty intimate terms with God, but I am definitly seeking something; I am just not sure what it is. Answers, maybe, but I guess I am not asking the right questions, because I am just not receiving any clarification on certain things. Maybe that is the lesson, to not need to know the answer to everything, but, like scrubbing Temple floors, that also really doesn’t work for me. I have been told that I may have the tiniest problem with some control issues, but the idea-even as buddy-buddy as I am with The Big Guy-of someone else dictating the happenings of my life? The thought terrifies me.

So-I am not even thinking Demi Moore today, nor taking a trip out of the country; today I am just trying to keep my grip on today and (gasp!) just waiting to see what will happen next.

It's Over!

So yesterday I was pissing and moaning all day about the horridness of Valentine’s Day; and okay, I agree that it is all a hype, blah blah, but the feelings it generated were very real at the time, and I was just totally feeling like shit. but you know, as the afternoon yesterday progressed, I started to feel better from some reason. I got off of work and went to pick up the little boys at day care, and they wer both just so lovely and sweet (which God knows is not always the case). In Owen’s case, literally; they had had a party, so his fat little cheeks and little baby porno lips (he has got lips like Anglina Jolie, I just have to kiss him all of the time) were sweet, and I thought, okay, this is enough for me today. When we got home, the two teens were both gone, so I got the unexpected gift of having the little ones all to myself while they were actually in a good mood, and that was especially lovely as well. Sam is 8, so he is getting a little obnoxious in general, and Owen is not quite two-which is explanation enough. Often by time we get home, they are both tired and cranky and hungry, and chaos reigns. Not so last night.

My friend April, a fellow single mom, posted about how it is sometimes all worth it, and last night waso ne of those nights. My daughter called me from a friend’s house, and despite my worries about HER reaction to V-Day (please god, don’t let some asshole boy hurt her feelings), she ws totally fine. I very tentaviely asked her if she was diappointed that she didn’t get anything, and sha said, “But I did! Kelsey got me a card and some candy, Addie got me this frog….” and I thought, okay, here is a 15 year old girl who has her shit together. Maybe my lessons about not needing a man to be happy have sunk in a little bit; I know she has far greater self-confidence than I did at her age, and seems so much more sure of the important things in life, and I have to believe that I had a little bit to do with that. Whatever the reasons, though, she is fine and strong, and I am proud.

With one thing and another, I didn’t feel the need to cry myself to sleep last night. Instead, I got to sit with Sam and Owen and watch Veggie Tales; I got to talk to my daughter, and the oldest son called before bed (he was at a friend’s) to tell me that he loves me. And then he called back to say I really do love you, mommy.” He is 13; he hasn’t called me mommy in ten years. I got to slather lotion all over Owen AND Sam, and we had time to read four books while snuggled on the couch. April is right; sometimes it IS all worth it. Instead of going to bed sad last night, I fell into sleep feeling grateful and loved.

Thank You, St. Valentine

I hate this day; I really, really do. I had to go to the grocery store last night and immediately upon walking in, was confronted with the wall of flowers and balloons and candy, and it was like a fist in the gut. But I got over it; helped Hannah pick out her present for a friend, then went home and had a normal evening, teased my 13 year old son about the elaborate preparations he was making to impress this girl HE likes, and went to bed thinking, ” I am a smart, strong woman, I don’t need a man in order to feel complete or happy, and this is all just a hype in order for people to make a lot of money. Really, I don’t see what the big deal is.

But then I got to work and remembered; yeah, it is a big deal. One of the bosses got all of us a flower in a bud vase, which was lovely and thoughtful. At the same time they were being delivered, two of the women in the office had large, lovely arrangements delivered from their husbands. Still, not so bad-until one of the women brought over my measly little flower and and said, while holding her enormous vase, “Here, now you don’t have to feel so bad. Besides, I don’t know why it is such a big deal, it is really just another day.” And while she said that, she was petting her goddamn fucking roses like they were a mink coat. And that is when I realized that when it comes to crap like this, it matters not a whit that my rational mind knows that whether or not I have a partner, I am lovable. Instead, the emotional part of me, the human part of me, and okay, I will go ahead and say it, the female part of me cries out, “But what is wrong with ME?”

Tonight, while almost everyone I know will be either out celebrating or IN celebrating this day, I will be home making macaroni and cheese, monitering homework and baths, getting laundry going and getting everything ready for tomorrow morning for it to start all over again. The burden of single-parenthood is bad enough on a normal day, but on days like this it is all the heavier. After the kids are in bed, I think I will make a point of working on the packet of papers I got from my bankruptcy attorney-if nothing else, it should be a great reminder of why love is a dangerous choice to make, and to kill any last hopes I might harbor about somehow finding and keeping someone to love.

Spare the Rod?

My very best web friend, April tagged me with this meme (which, okay, I don’t even know what that means, but I get the idea), and to answer the question with one word, YES. But that isn’t entirely true, either. I grew up in a home filled with violence, so for me spanking or otherwise striking one of my children is never my first instinct, yet I cannot in all honesty say I have NEVER spanked any of my kids. I have a clear memory of actually chasing Sam around the table with a wooden spoon when he was about three; I didn’t catch him and we ended up laughing about it, but the intent was there. I have also been known to give them a swat or two on the bum, more as an attention getter than any real attempt at discipline. In my mind, though, spanking means using force and proving to your children once and for all that you get to do what you want to do because you are bigger and stronger. It doesn’t involve teaching them a lesson as in “This is not okay and this is why,” it just teaches them that hitting in order to make someone do what you want them to do is okay.

And to be totally honest here, spankings did not teach ME anything as a child other than to try harder to not get caught. I often did not know exactly what I had done to need spanked for, so felt, most of the time, like I was walking on eggshells and tiptoeing gently areound land mines, because there did not seem to be rhyme or reason to the spankings. I didn’t-DON’T-want my children to feel that way, unsure of why they are being punished and therefore growing up feeling like everything they do is wrong.

My youngest is not quite two. Time-outs work, telling him the same thing over and over while redirecting him works. I can’t see how spanking him would help him, say, learn that screaming and hanging onto my leg to get my attention is not appropriate, or that climbing into the dryer is not safe. The older one, my 8 year old, does things that make me WANT to spank him, but he is also old enough to be sent to his room, or have his Game Boy taken away, or be forbidden to take part in a party. And the oldest two? To be frank, they are both bigger than me, and I cannot even imgaine trying to use physical means to try to either discipline or control their behavior. What they have to deal with are consequences; my daughter did not show up at home far past the time she was supposed to be there, so I called the police to go get her. My son once cleaned up his room by shoving all of the freshly washed and folded clothes under his bed, so he was given one outfit of clothes to wear for a week. Maybe not perfect, maybe not the way someone else would do it, but it works for us.

That said, I don’t believe that people who DO spank should be considered abusive. There is a line that all of us should never cross, and I am not referring to that type of person. But I do know a lot of really great parent with really great kids who DO spank. I think it all comes down to being the best parent you know how to be, and doing what works for you.

A friend of mine recently suggested I give this place another try, so here I am, trying to figure out what I am supposed to write about bow. How strange is that-I rarely am at a loss for words, but I feel something akin to stage fright at the moment. Performance anxiety, perhaps (though since that term is generally used as a euphimism for “I can’t get it up,” I don’t think that really applies!). At any rate, I am here, I have changed the title and also the colrs and the template, and now I have to figure out which font and size I want, and also how to remember it so all of my posts look the same. This is clearly going to be an undertaking of great proportion, but hey, it gets me out of self a little bit. Well. Not really, as this is basically about ME, right? Still, something a little better than sitting around feeling insecure and neurotic and basically a silen voice in the midst of a lot of chaos. I don’t like to feel either silent or overlooked, so maybe this is a start to finding my voice, I don’t know.